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.
|Ingredient||Forms of NyQuil containing the ingredient||Symptoms it could treat|
|Acetaminophen (2)||Sore throat, fever, headache, minor aches and pains|
|Doxylamine (4)||Sneezing and runny nose|
|Phenylephrine (5)||Nasal congestion|
|Alcohol||Liquid forms of:||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.
|Ingredient||How it works in pregnancy||Side effects|
|Acetaminophen||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).|
|Dextromethorphan||Safe to use in all stages|
|Phenylephrine||Risk of birth defects in the first trimester|
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.
- Drink warm teas and plenty of fluids for relief from nasal congestion and 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 taking NyQuil or any other medicine, you should first seek counsel from your doctor and get assured that the benefits outweigh its risks to your pregnancy.
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any studies on the effects of Nyquil on pregnant women?
Scientific studies evaluating Nyquil’s effects on pregnant women are scarce. However, some studies have looked at the individual active ingredients in Nyquil and their potential effects on fetal development. It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication during pregnancy.
2. Can I take Nyquil if I have gestational diabetes?
Nyquil may be taken during pregnancy after seeking approval from a healthcare provider if you have gestational diabetes or any other medical condition during pregnancy.
3. Is it safe to take Nyquil with other medications while pregnant?
Nyquil should not be used with other medications containing acetaminophen and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) (11). It’s important to consult your healthcare provider before taking Nyquil with other medications.
4. Can Nyquil cause allergic reactions in pregnant women?
Acetaminophen present in Nyquil may cause allergic reactions that lead to reddening of the skin, rashes, and blisters (11). Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.
5. What are the signs that I should stop taking Nyquil during pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, refrain from using Nyquil and immediately consult a medical professional if you encounter symptoms such as nervousness, dizziness, or insomnia. Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or persist for more than seven days, if your fever worsens or lasts for more than three days, if you experience redness or swelling, or if new symptoms arise (11).
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.
Infographic: Taking Nyquil When Pregnant
Nyquil products without alcohol may be taken during pregnancy. However, the lowest dose should be used only for a few days and as per the doctor’s prescription. Prolonged use or overuse may be harmful to fetal health. The infographic below discusses the general instructions to remember when taking this medicine.
- 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.
- What’s safe to take while pregnant; The Women’s Center at Southwest Health
- Acetaminophen; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2017)
- SaeRam Oh et al.; Dextromethorphan; NIH (2022)
- Doxylamine; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2018)
- Phenylephrine; U.S. National Library of Medicine (2018)
- Alcohol and pregnancy; Better Health Channel
- Cough and Cold During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
- Is acetaminophen safe in pregnancy?.
- Sahdeo Prasad and Amit K. Tyagi; Ginger and Its Constituents: Role in Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer; Gastroenterology Research and Practice (2015)
- K Saketkhoo et al.; Effects of drinking hot water cold water and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance; Chest; NCBI
- Vicks Nyquil Severe Cold And Flu.