DayQuil and Alcohol

Do you know the harm and effects of drinking DayQuil and alcohol ? People generally use DayQuil to treat a cold or the flu. Dayquil Cold & Flu is an over-the-counter medication that contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and reduces fever, phenylephrine is a decongestant, and dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. On the other hand, Alcohol dehydrates the body and weakens the immune system. However, some people with a cold or flu may still be interested in drinking alcohol while taking Dayquil. This article will explore all the facts about DayQuil and alcohol


What Is DayQuil?

DayQuil Cold & Flu is a combination product that contains the active ingredients acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine.

Dayquil and alcohol
DayQuil and alcohol

It is a common over-the-counter medication that can help relieve the symptoms of a cold or the flu. It’s meant to treat sneezing, sore throat, headache, cough, and mild aches and pains that frequently accompany the flu or a cold.


Dayquil Ingredients

Dayquil, a popular cold medicine, is typically used as a decongestant, cough suppressant, and fever reducer. Below are the ingredients of DayQuil


Dextromethorphan is one of the better-known ingredients in cough medicine. It’s a cough suppressant and sedative from the same chemical family as morphine. In recommended doses, it numbs the throat and senses. However, in excess, it can act as a powerful dissociative and hallucinogenic agent.


Phenylephrine is a decongestant that is suggested to be used as a nasal spray. Studies have shown that oral intake of this drug has reduced efficiency.


Acetaminophen acts mainly as a moderate pain reliever and fever reducer. It’s also known as paracetamol.


How does DayQuil work?

Acetaminophen is a fever reducer and a pain reliever. It works by changing the way your body senses pain. It also changes how your body regulates its temperature. Dextromethorphan suppresses your urge to cough. The third ingredient, phenylephrine, is a nasal decongestant. It reduces the swelling of the blood vessels in your nasal passages.

DayQuil and Alcohol

Taking DayQuil and drinking alcohol has a lot of side effects on the body. When you take DayQuil and also drink alcohol, it increases the risk of developing:

  • Liver damage
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
    Ingesting high doses of both can cause:
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure 

Other common side effects of mixing alcohol and Dayquil may include:
Signs of an overdose involving Dayquil and alcohol may include:


The psychotic effects are primarily the result of dextromethorphan, while vomiting and abdominal pain may be a sign of acute acetaminophen overdose. However, it is important to note that acetaminophen can damage the liver without any immediate side effects.
An overdose with Dayquil and alcohol is dangerous and potentially fatal.

Alcohol should not be mixed with Dayquil because:

  • Alcohol interacts with both acetaminophen and dextromethorphan
  • Different doses of Dayquil interact negatively with alcohol
  • In high quantities, alcohol, and acetaminophen directly damage the liver
  • Using both substances together can increase a person’s risk of overdose

Acetaminophen and Liver Damage

Acetaminophen is also sold under the brand name Tylenol. It’s the most common drug ingredient in the U.S. and is found in more than 600 medications. This includes many popular over-the-counter medications. And even though it is an effective pain reliever and fever reducer, it can also be toxic to your liver. 
In fact, the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U. S. is acetaminophen overdose. And it’s the second-leading cause of liver failure that requires transplantation. Taking acetaminophen, or medications that contain it, and drinking alcohol increase your risk of liver damage. DayQuil manufacturer Procter & Gamble cautions that the safest choice is to not drink at all while taking DayQuil, especially if you usually drink heavily and regularly.
Using alcohol and acetaminophen together can cause serious side effects such as:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Chills
  • Excessive tiredness or weakness
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

How Liver Damage Occurs

The risk of taking too much acetaminophen or mixing it with alcohol comes from how your body breaks down acetaminophen. When processed by the liver, acetaminophen is broken down into a number of substances. Most of these are removed in our urine. One of those substances is known as NAPQI and it is especially hard on the liver.


Symptoms of Liver Damage

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Abdominal pain in the upper right side
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Sweating
    Fortunately for us, when acetaminophen is taken in safe doses, the body has a way to deal with the harmful effects of NAPQI. That is, a powerful antioxidant called glutathione that the liver uses to neutralize the NAPQI and prevent it from damaging liver cells. 
    However, individuals who drink heavily (3 or more drinks per day) cause glutathione levels to drop, which allows NAPQI to build up to dangerous levels that can damage liver cells. Due to this, chronic drinkers are more at risk for an unintentional acetaminophen overdose. This can result in severe liver damage or even liver failure. 

How Long After Taking DayQuil Can I Drink?

As mentioned earlier, if possible, refrain from taking in two substances that could have adverse effects on the body if combined. Depending on the physiology of a person, a single drink of alcohol could stay in the body for a minimum of three hours. Anything taken within this period could react with the alcohol already in the body.
Conversely, DayQuil’s effects could last anywhere between four to six hours, depending on the person. Any other substance taken during this period could also interact with the DayQuil already in the system. Due to the fact that different people have different thresholds, whatever period passes for a “safe” time to take alcohol after taking DayQuil, or vice versa, is completely relative to the person.

Drinking DayQuil and Alcohol Side Effect

Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol is already dangerous as inebriation causes numerous damaging effects on the body, including:

  • Neurological issues that lead to sudden and unpredictable mood and personality changes
  • Diminished physical coordination
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
    Chances of developing one or more of these issues are significantly increased when overconsumption of alcohol is paired with substance use. In the case of DayQuil, as it typically induces feelings of sleepiness and deep relaxation due to its narcotic effect, some people might find that pairing it with alcohol produces an even greater experience.

Side effects of DayQuil

DayQuil can cause some unwanted side effects. Most of these side effects don’t need medical attention. Rather, they may go away as your body adjusts to the medication. You can ask your doctor about any mild side effects you have that are bothersome or don’t go away.
More common side effects
The more common side effects of DayQuil can include:

  • lightheadedness
  • drowsiness
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • trouble sleeping
    Also, avoid drinking grapefruit juice while taking this drug. Grapefruit juice might increase the levels of dextromethorphan, one of the ingredients in DayQuil. Higher levels increase your chance of side effects such as nervousness and dizziness.
    Serious side effects
    One serious side effect of DayQuil is an allergic reaction. Symptoms include:
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • red, peeling, or blistering skin
  • itchiness
  • difficulty breathing
  • trouble swallowing
  • swelling of your face, throat, tongue, or lips
  • swelling of your hands, legs, ankles, or feet

Drugs that interact with DayQuil

The active ingredients in DayQuil can interact with other drugs. These interactions may affect the way the drugs work or increase your risk of harmful side effects. If you use the drugs listed below or any other drugs, supplements, or herbs, check with your doctor before using DayQuil.
The acetaminophen in DayQuil can interact with the following drugs:

  • carbamazepine
  • isoniazid
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • phenothiazines
  • warfarin
    The phenylephrine and dextromethorphan in DayQuil can interact with drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Even if you’ve stopped taking MAOIs, interactions can still occur if you’ve used them within the past two weeks. Examples of these drugs include:
  • isocarboxazid
  • phenelzine
  • selegiline
  • tranylcypromine

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