How Long After Taking Dayquil Can You Drink Alcohol?

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that comes from the same family of drugs as morphine.

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What Is Dayquil?

Vicks Dayquil Cold and Flu, more commonly known as Dayquil, is an over-the-counter medication that’s used in treating cold and flu symptoms without the alcohol that’s present in its nighttime variant Nyquil. It contains acetaminophen(tylenol), dextromethorphan and phenylephrine. Other formulations of Dayquil can include active ingredients that fight symptoms or relieve pain.

Whichever version of Dayquil you use, you shouldn’t mix it with any alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can interact with Dayquil’s medications and cause both short-term effects and long-term damage to your body. Therefore, it’s essential that you follow instructions and adhere to the suggested waiting period before consuming alcohol. After that, your body will be able to handle its liquor without unnecessary damage.

What Medications Are Inside Dayquil? What Can They Do?

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a fever reducer and also works as a moderate pain reliever. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that comes from the same family of drugs as morphine. Taken correctly, this sedative can reduce coughs and slightly numb your throat, which makes it useful in sore throat treatments.

Phenylephrine is a decongestant that can remove mucus and reduce swelling in your sinuses. These are the two main causes of stuffy noses. Although used orally in Dayquil, experts say it’s more effective as a nasal spray. It’s main side effect is that it causes higher blood pressure.

A major side effect of dextromethorphan is how it alters your energy levels. At the suggested dosage, it can improve your energy. At higher levels, it reduces your energy and causes respiratory depression. Other side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble concentrating

Higher levels still can even cause hallucinations, which has lead to many people taking large amounts of cough medicines with dextromethorphan just for this purpose. This phenomenon is commonly known as skittling or robotripping, and it’s very dangerous.

Acetaminophen’s main side effect is liver damage as well as severe liver damage, which usually results from consuming large amounts over prolonged periods or unusually high individual doses.

Dayquil and Alcohol

What Are The Risks From Mixing Dayquil and Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol can already be hazardous, but for those who mix alcohol and DayQuil in high doses, this is especially true. Both alcohol and acetaminophen are difficult for the liver to process. When acetaminophen is processed by the body, it breaks down into several substances. One of these is a toxin called NAPQI. Under suggested dosage and without alcohol, NAPQI is broken down further by an antioxidant called glutathione made by your liver. If you take too much or drink alcohol alongside it, however, your liver will be overwhelmed and unable to produce enough glutathione for your immediate needs.

As time goes by, NAPQI will cause significant liver damage and can lead to an acetaminophen overdose in a fairly short time. Acetaminophen overdoses don’t start showing symptoms until four days after ingestion of the amount in question.

Alcohol can aggravate the side effects of dextromethorphan as well, which is why Dayquil has the same guidelines against operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. The main negative side effects of combining alcohol with Dayquil include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disruption
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Disassociation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • Jaundice(Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)

Long-term issues can include:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertension
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatic damage and disease

Keep in mind that liver damage from excessive acetaminophen use can occur without noticeable symptoms at first. Finally, continued excessive use can lead to fatal overdoses. If you suspect you’ve had an overdose, contact a medical professional immediately.

Excessive dextromethorphan intake combined with alcohol can lead to:

  • stupor
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coma that can lead to death

You can avoid most of these side effects by simply following the instructions on the bottle and doing things in moderation. Don’t drink alcohol until it is safe to do so, and don’t take Dayquil too soon after you’ve consumed alcohol.

How Long Should You Wait Before Consuming Alcohol?

Proctor and Gamble, Dayquil’s manufacturer, advises against drinking any kind of alcohol until your sickness has passed. Most medical professionals give the same advice. If, for whatever reason, you need to drink during a treatment regimen, there are factors to consider.

First, everyone’s body metabolizes alcohol at different rates. If you have a slower metabolic cycle, your liver will take longer to break down alcohol than usual. The amount and frequency of Dayquil usage also matters because the more acetaminophen and dextromethorphan you consume, the worse the side effects and potential for long-term damage will be.

Finally, your own tolerance for alcohol plays a factor. If you’ve already developed a noticeable tolerance to alcohol and need to drink more or stronger varieties, then you should avoid Dayquil altogether as you won’t be able to discern when it’s safe for you to take it.

Under normal conditions, most experts agree that you should wait between four and six hours to drink any kind of alcohol. If you’ve just had a drink, it’ll stay in your system for an average of three hours depending on metabolism.

How Can You Stay Safe When Taking Dayquil With an Alcoholic Dependency?

It can be difficult to kick any addictive habit, so you should take these steps. First, you should talk to your doctor to get personalized professional advice that’s tailored to your metabolism and your body’s specific needs.

Second, stay vigilant. Monitor yourself for any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you can discern where they’re from, you can cut down or stop your intake accordingly.

Third, keep yourself aware of the risks and side effects of any other possible interactions with other medications. Alcohol combined with diabetes medications can lead to:

  • Tachycardia(Rapid heartbeat)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Extreme blood pressure fluctuations

Alcohol with heartburn medicine can also cause tachycardia and blood pressure fluctuations.

Alcohol combined with blood pressure medication has side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness and fainting spells
  • Arrhythmia

Alcohol and opioid mixtures are among the deadliest of all. Combined usage of these leads to:

  • Impaired or slow breathing
  • Unusual periods of sleepiness
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Loss of memory
  • Other abnormal behavior

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any other medication you may be taking. If you’ve unwittingly combined any of these medications, seek treatment immediately.

A Final Recap

Mixing Dayquil with any alcohol can lead to short-term damage and exacerbate existing cold and flu symptoms. It can also lead to long-term liver, heart and blood pressure issues. Continued usage could lead to potentially fatal overdoses. To reduce the risks, you should make sure to follow instructions and avoid alcohol if possible. If you must drink, then make sure to wait up to six hours after taking Dayquil. After you drink, don’t take Dayquil for at least three hours.

If you or a loved one need more personalized help, contact a doctor right away. If you need help getting rid of your alcoholic dependency and getting your life back on track, contact us at Live Free Recovery New Hampshire for more information.


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