Is It Safe To Take Nyquil When Pregnant?

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NyQuil is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication commonly used to relieve sore throat, cough, sneezing, headache, minor pains, aches, fever, and runny nose. While the medicine is usually safe, you might want to know if using NyQuil while pregnant is safe.

It is a common concern that several mothers may have as taking medications during pregnancy affects not only you but your baby. Read this post as we tell you about the safety of NyQuil during pregnancy, its effects on the mother and the baby, and alternatives that you may consider.

Can You Take NyQuil During Pregnancy?

Some forms of NyQuil are safe to use while some are not. The alcohol content in NyQuil Liquid has about 10% alcohol, and it is not advisable to take; NyQuil LiquiCaps and Alcohol-free NyQuil Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid can be taken (1).

But before going for any over-the-counter medications, try some simple and safe measures at home for relief. If the cold does not subside within a week or if you are experiencing high fever or any such severe symptoms, then consult your doctor and take the prescribed medication.

NyQuil And Its Ingredients

NyQuil is available in three types–NyQuil Cold and Flu, NyQuil Severe Cold and Flu, and NyQuil Cough. Each of these contains a combination of active and inactive ingredients. The below table gives you the details of the ingredients in each type.

IngredientForms of NyQuil containing the ingredientSymptoms it could treat
Acetaminophen (2)
  • NyQuil Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu
Sore throat, fever, headache, minor aches and pains
Dextromethorphan (3)
  • NyQuil Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Cough
Cough
Doxylamine (4)
  • NyQuil Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Cough
Sneezing and runny nose
Phenylephrine (5)
  • NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu
Nasal congestion

Sinus pressure

AlcoholLiquid forms of:
  • NyQuil Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu
  • NyQuil Cough
None

Avoid NyQuil Severe Cold And Flu, and the liquid forms containing alcohol during pregnancy (6).

In the next section, we tell you about the positive and negative effects of each ingredient on pregnancy.

Effects Of NyQuil Ingredients During Pregnancy

The ingredients of NyQuil might have varied effects on pregnant women and their babies. This table tells you how each ingredient works and the likely side-effects it could have during pregnancy.

IngredientHow it works in pregnancySide effects
Acetaminophen
  • Relieves pain and fever
  • Safe for short-term use
  • Safe in all trimesters
High dosages or continuous intake could increase the risk of liver damage, rashes, itching, hoarseness, swelling of the face, tongue, lips, eyes, hands and feet, and breathing difficulties (5).
DextromethorphanSafe to use in all stages
  • Dizziness, nervousness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, restlessness, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Rashes in severe conditions.
Doxylamine
  • Safe to use in all stages
  • Used in combination with pyridoxine for nausea and vomiting
    • Drowsiness, dry mouth, throat and nose, chest congestion, headache, nausea, nervousness and excitement.
    • Blurry vision and trouble while urinating in severe cases (7).
PhenylephrineRisk of birth defects in the first trimester
  • Dizziness, nervousness and sleeplessness.
  • Increased blood pressure in severe cases (8).

What Are The Alternatives To NyQuil?

If you want to avoid NyQuil or any other cold and flu medications, you may try some simple measures at home (7):

  • Use a humidifier to reduce nasal congestion. You can fix it in your bedroom or living area where you spend most of your time.
  • Use extra pillows to prop up your head. It clears the congestion in nasal passages and makes breathing easy.
  • Blow your nose gently by closing one nostril with your finger, and clearing the other. It prevents mucus accumulation in the nasal passages.
  • Rinse stuffy nose by squirting salt water solution into the nose.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to get temporary relief from sore throat.
  • Eat infection-fighting foods such as vitamin C foods, carrots, pepper, mustard, and cranberries, zinc and echinacea.

These measures will give you temporary relief. Keep repeating them until the effects of cold and flu reduce.

When To Consult A Doctor?

A cold or flu can last up to two weeks but the intensity reduces within three to five days. See a doctor if the symptoms last more than a few days with no improvement, or if the symptoms are unusual or severe (7).

Before takingNyQuil or any other medicine, you should first seek counsel from your doctor and get assured that the benefits outweigh its risks to your pregnancy.

Remember:

  • Do not take NyQuil Severe Cold and Flu during the first trimester as it contains phenylephrine, and could lead to birth defects.
  • Do not take Liquid NyQuil as it contains alcohol.

NyQuil is a common OTC medication used to treat colds and flu. Although it is safe to take in normal conditions, its intake during pregnancy is not advisable. The medicine may increase the risk of congenital anomalies due to its alcoholic content. Hence, it is suggested to take NyQuil when pregnant only after consulting your doctor. Thus, if you contract the flu when pregnant, consult your doctor so that it can be treated accordingly. Alternatively, try medically-approved home remedies to treat the signs of a cold or flu during pregnancy.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for a doctor’s consultation. Do not use any medication without talking to your doctor.

Key Pointers

  • Pregnant women should avoid taking NyQuil and its other liquid forms containing alcohol.
  • NyQuil’s contents may have varying effects on pregnant women and their babies.
  • Use humidifiers, drink warm fluids, and gargle with warm salt water instead of taking NyQuil during pregnancy.
  • Always seek your gynecologist’s consent before using NyQuil or any other drug.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. What’s safe to take while pregnant; The Women’s Center at Southwest Health
    http://womens-health-center.org/obstetrics/other-topics/medication-use/
  2. Acetaminophen; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2017)
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681004.html
  3. SaeRam Oh et al.; Dextromethorphan; NIH (2022)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538216/
  4. Doxylamine; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2018)
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682537.html
  5. Phenylephrine; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2018)
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a606008.html
  6. Alcohol and pregnancy; Better Health Channel
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Alcohol-and-pregnancy
  7. Cough and Cold During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/cough-cold-during-pregnancy/
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Dr. Christian Pope

(DO, FACOG)
Dr. Christian Pope is Board-certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is a long-standing medical staff member and past chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke's Hospital of SouthCoast Hospitals in New Bedford, Massachusetts and is in private group practice at Hawthorn Medical Associates, Inc. He is a member... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more

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