Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil?

mixing dayquil with alcohol
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Last Updated on: 11th June 2024, 10:09 pm

Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil? | OC Revive

Clinically Reviewed By Brittany Astrom - LMFT

Brittany has 15 years of experience in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse field. Brittany has been licensed for almost 8 years and has worked in various settings throughout her career, including inpatient psychiatric treatment, outpatient, residential treatment center, PHP and IOP settings.

Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil? Warnings

You should not drink alcohol if you’re planning on taking Dayquil aka cough medicine. Dayquil contains acetaminophen, a common pain reliever that when taken in high doses, can cause severe liver damage, especially when combined with alcohol. This combination can increase the risk of a fatal overdose and lead to severe health issues. Some warning signs of a negative reaction include extreme drowsiness or difficulty staying awake, and trouble breathing or noticeably slower breaths.

In this article, we’ll explore the increased risk of mixing both alcohol and Dayquil, the potential risks, and offer some advice on how to handle this situation.

Mind and Bodily Effects From Mixing DayQuil and Alcohol

DayQuil is a popular over-the-counter medication used to relieve symptoms of the common cold, flu, and allergies. It contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine, which work together to help alleviate pain, coughing, and congestion.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a central nervous system depressant that can cause drowsiness and impair judgment. When taken in moderation, alcohol may have some health benefits, but when combined with other substances, it can have adverse effects.

When you mix DayQuil or other cold medication and alcohol, you are essentially combining two different substances that can impact your body and mind in different ways. The effects of both dayquil and alcohol addiction, and this combination can vary depending on the person, the dosage, and the type of alcohol consumed.

Increased Drowsiness

One of the most common effects of mixing DayQuil when exceeding the recommended dose with alcohol is increased drowsiness. Both substances have sedative properties, but alcohol addiction and when combined, they can intensify the effects of each other, making you feel even more tired and lethargic.

This drowsiness can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving or operating heavy machinery. It can also make it challenging to focus or think clearly, which can lead to accidents or injuries.

Furthermore, the increased drowsiness could affect your ability to engage in social activities or even enjoy your time with friends, which was your primary reason for taking DayQuil in the first place.

It’s also important to note that the sedative effects of alcohol can be increased by the presence of dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in DayQuil. This can further compound the level of drowsiness you experience drinking alcohol.

Impaired Coordination

When you consume alcohol, it can impair your judgment and decision-making abilities. Adding alcohol and DayQuil to the mix can worsen this effect, making it difficult to make sound decisions.

For example, you may not realize how much alcohol you’ve consumed, leading to alcohol poisoning. Or, you may not be able to gauge how impaired you are, causing you to make risky choices.

The impaired judgment can affect various aspects of your life, from personal safety to decision-making in social settings. It may also lead to misunderstandings or conflicts with friends if your behavior becomes erratic.


Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to produce more urine. This can lead to dehydration, which can worsen the symptoms of a cold or flu.

DayQuil also contains decongestants, which can have a drying effect on the body. When combined with alcohol, this can lead to severe dehydration, which can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

The dehydration caused by this combination can not only exacerbate the symptoms of your illness but also delay your recovery. Adequate hydration is critical when you’re sick, and mixing DayQuil with alcohol undermines this essential healing process.

Nausea and Vomiting

Both DayQuil and alcohol can irritate the stomach lining, leading to nausea and vomiting. When taken together, these substances can increase the likelihood of these symptoms.

If you’re already experiencing nausea or vomiting due to a cold or flu, adding alcohol to the mix can make it even worse. This can lead to dehydration and other complications.

Nausea and vomiting can also result in an aversion to food, which may deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to fight off your illness. Moreover, persistent vomiting can cause esophageal tears and other gastrointestinal issues.

Compromised Immune Response

Mixing DayQuil with alcohol can put additional stress on your immune system. The presence of alcohol in your system can compromise your body’s ability to fight off the pathogens causing your your cold or flu symptoms.

Alcohol can alter the composition of your gut microbiome, which plays a significant role in immune function. This can lead to a weakened defense against infections and prolong the duration of your illness.

Furthermore, the combination opioid pain medications can interfere with the quality of your sleep, which is vital for immune system regulation and recovery. Disrupted or inadequate sleep can hinder your body’s natural healing processes.

can you drink alcohol with dayquil

Potential Risks of Mixing DayQuil and Alcohol

Now that we’ve explored the effects of mixing DayQuil and alcohol, let’s take a closer look at the potential risks of this combination combining alcohol.

The Dangerous Cocktail: Unveiling the Risks of Mixing Substances

DayQuil, a widely used over-the-counter medication to alleviate cold and flu symptoms, mix alcohol is a staple in many medicine cabinets. However, what might seem like a harmless combination of cold and flu medication and a drink to soothe your symptoms can turn out to be a dangerous mix. DayQuil and alcohol, when combined, can lead to a range of health risks,some of which can be severe and long-lasting.

Liver Damage: A Double Whammy

The liver, a vital organ responsible for filtering toxins and metabolizing medications, bears the brunt of both DayQuil and alcohol consumption. DayQuil contains acetaminophen, a common pain reliever and fever reducer, which can be harmful to the liver when taken in excess or mixed with alcohol. Acetaminophen is metabolized in the liver, and excessive amounts can lead to the buildup of toxic byproducts, causing liver damage. Alcohol also undergoes metabolism in the liver, and when combined with acetaminophen, it can further strain the liver’s ability to process these substances,increasing the risk of liver injury.

Chronic alcohol use, even at moderate levels, can contribute to liver damage over time. Conditions of liver failure like fatty liver disease,hepatitis, and cirrhosis can develop, and mixing alcohol with DayQuil can exacerbate these issues. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid drinking alcohol while taking DayQuil to protect your liver from potential harm.

Respiratory Depression: A Dangerous Duo

One of the ingredients often found in DayQuil is dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant meant to treat cold or flu symptoms. While DXM can help alleviate coughing, it can also have a depressant effect on the respiratory system. When combined with alcohol, which also has depressant properties, the risk of respiratory depression increases. This can lead to slowed or shallow breathing,which can be particularly dangerous for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions or those who consume excessive amounts of both substances.

Blood Pressure: A Recipe for Trouble

Both DayQuil and alcohol can affect blood pressure. While DayQuil may contain ingredients that can slightly raise blood pressure, alcohol, particularly in excessive amounts, can lead to more significant fluctuations. Combining the two can result in unpredictable swings in blood pressure, potentially leading to dizziness, fainting, or even more severe cardiovascular events in individuals with underlying conditions.

The long-term effects of chronic alcohol use on blood pressure are also well-documented. Chronic alcohol consumption can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. If you’re already struggling with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular issues, mixing DayQuil and alcohol can be particularly hazardous.

Alcohol Use Disorder: A Serious Concern

Individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are at an elevated risk when mixing DayQuil and alcohol. The impaired judgment and decision-making associated with AUD may lead to unintentional overdoses of either substance. Additionally, individuals with AUD often have pre-existing liver damage, making them more vulnerable to the combined effects of DayQuil and alcohol on liver function.

Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil? | OC Revive

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: The Unseen Danger

Withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone with alcohol use disorder abruptly stops drinking alcohol. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include tremors, sweating, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and in severe cases, seizures or delirium tremens (DTs). If you’re taking DayQuil for cold and flu symptoms and have a history of alcohol dependence, it’s important to be aware of the potential for withdrawal symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary.

Drug Interactions

DayQuil contains multiple active ingredients, and when combined with alcohol, the risk of drug interactions increases. For example, dextromethorphan in DayQuil can cause serotonin syndrome when combined with alcohol.

Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that can cause rapid heart rate, high blood pressure respiratory depression, and seizures. While it’s rare, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks of mixing medications and alcohol.

Additionally, phenylephrine, a decongestant in DayQuil, can interact with alcohol to increase blood pressure, posing a risk to individuals with hypertension or cardiovascular issues.

What to Do If You’ve Taken DayQuil and Alcohol

If you’ve already taken DayQuil and consumed alcohol, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the potential risks.

Drink Plenty of Water

Alcohol can dehydrate your body, and DayQuil can have a drying effect on the body as well. Drinking plenty of water can help replenish fluids lost due to alcohol consumption and can help alleviate symptoms like headache and nausea.

Staying hydrated will also assist in flushing out toxins from your body more quickly, potentially reducing the harmful effects of both DayQuil and alcohol on your liver and other organs.

How To Manage If You Experience Withdrawal Symptoms Symptoms

Keep an eye on your symptoms, especially if you’ve taken DayQuil to relieve a cold or flu. If your cold and flu symptoms worsen or you experience any adverse effects, seek medical attention immediately.

In particular, look out for symptoms such as extreme dizziness, difficulty breathing, or an irregular or rapid heartbeat, as these could be signs of a serious reaction to the combination of DayQuil and alcohol.

Avoid Operating Heavy Machinery

As mentioned earlier, mixing DayQuil and alcohol can increase drowsiness and impair judgment. It’s best to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving until the effects of both substances have worn off.

If you must travel, consider using public transportation or ride-sharing services to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Seeking Medical Advice From A Healthcare Professional

If you already have a substance use disorder or you experience severe symptoms and are concerned about your health, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

Prompt medical attention is particularly important if you suspect you may have alcohol poisoning or if you experience symptoms of an acute liver failure or distress, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain, or severe fatigue.

Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil? | OC Revive

How to Avoid Mixing DayQuil and Alcohol

The best way to avoid the potential risks of mixing alcohol, DayQuil and alcohol is to avoid consuming them together. Here are a few tips to help you avoid this situation:

Read the Labels

Always read the labels of any medication you drink alcohol while you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications like DayQuil. Look for warnings about consuming alcohol while taking the medication, and follow the recommended dosage.

Understanding the active ingredients in your medication can also help you to be more aware of the potential risks and to make informed decisions about your health.

Find Alternative Remedies

If you’re feeling under the weather and plan on consuming alcohol, consider finding alternative remedies for your symptoms. For example, you can try herbal teas, rest, and hydration to help with a cold or flu.

Natural remedies such as honey, ginger, and vitamin C have been known to alleviate cold and flu symptoms without the risks associated with over-the-counter medications.

Don’t Mix Medications

Mixing medications can be dangerous, and combining DayQuil with other medications can increase the risk of adverse effects. If you’re taking any other medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking DayQuil.

This is particularly important for those taking prescription medications that may have strong interactions with the ingredients in DayQuil or with alcohol.

Know Your Limits

If you do decide to consume alcohol while taking DayQuil, be mindful of your limits. Don’t consume more than one dose of DayQuil and limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks.

Being aware of how your body reacts to both DayQuil and alcohol individually can help you better gauge your limits when considering consuming both.

Diabetes Medication and Dayquil

It’s important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking DayQuil with your diabetes medication. They can provide the most accurate and personalized advice based on your specific medications and medical history.

Here’s why it’s important to check:

  • Blood Sugar Levels: Some DayQuil formulations contain ingredients like dextromethorphan, phenylephrine, or pseudoephedrine, which may affect blood sugar levels. Your doctor or pharmacist can assess whether these ingredients could interact with your diabetes medication and potentially cause fluctuations in your blood sugar.

  • Medication Interactions: DayQuil may interact with certain diabetes medications, potentially altering their effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects. Your healthcare provider can review the specific ingredients in DayQuil and your diabetes medication to determine if there are any potential interactions.

don't mix dayquil with alcohol

How Does the Liver Metabolize Alcohol?

The liver metabolizes alcohol through a process involving two main enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

  1. Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH): ADH converts alcohol (ethanol) into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance.

  2. Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH): ALDH then converts acetaldehyde into acetate, a less harmful substance that can be further broken down into water and carbon dioxide for elimination.

The liver metabolizes alcohol at a relatively constant rate, regardless of how much was consumed. This means that excess alcohol stays in the bloodstream until the liver can process it. This is why excessive alcohol consumption can lead to intoxication and various adverse reactions, such as:

  • Impaired Coordination: Alcohol affects the central nervous system, leading to difficulties with balance, movement, and speech.

  • Mild Aches and Sore Throat: Alcohol can dehydrate the body, leading to muscle aches and throat irritation.

  • Blood Vessel Dilation: Alcohol can cause blood vessels to widen, leading to flushed skin and a feeling of warmth.

  • Other Adverse Reactions: Depending on the amount consumed and individual tolerance, excessive alcohol intake can also cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and other more severe symptoms.

What is an Acetaminophen Overdose?

An acetaminophen overdose occurs when someone ingests a harmful amount of acetaminophen, either intentionally or accidentally. Acetaminophen is a common active ingredient found in many over-the-counter pain relievers and cold medications.

While acetaminophen is generally safe when used as directed, exceeding the recommended dosage can lead to serious health consequences, including liver damage and even death.

Substance Abuse

Acetaminophen overdose can sometimes be a result of substance abuse, where individuals misuse the medication to achieve a high or to self-medicate for underlying emotional or psychological issues. Chronic misuse of acetaminophen can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it difficult to quit without professional help.

Addiction Treatment

If acetaminophen overdose is linked to drug abuse, addiction treatment may be necessary. This typically involves a combination of medical detoxification, counseling, and behavioral therapies to address the underlying causes of the addiction and to help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Medication Assisted Treatment

In some cases, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be used in conjunction with other therapies to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with acetaminophen dependence. MAT involves the use of medications, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone, to reduce the reinforcing effects of acetaminophen and to help individuals maintain sobriety.

Physical and Psychological Dependence

Long-term misuse of acetaminophen can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence refers to the body’s adaptation to the presence of acetaminophen, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped abruptly. Psychological dependence involves a strong emotional or mental craving for acetaminophen, even in the absence of physical withdrawal symptoms.


In conclusion, combining alcohol and DayQuil can have adverse effects on your body and mind. While the occasional drink while taking DayQuil may not cause any issues, it’s best to avoid consuming them together to minimize the potential risks.

If you’re feeling under the weather, prioritize rest and hydration to help your body recover. And if you do decide to consume alcohol, make sure to drink responsibly and monitor your symptoms closely. Remember, your mental health conditions, should always take precedence over social engagements.

Can you Drink Alcohol With Dayquil? | OC Revive

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If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to OC Revive today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 844-514-0665


The effects of DayQuil typically last 4-6 hours.

It’s generally not recommended to mix alcohol with any medication. Consult a healthcare professional for specific advice.

DayQuil should not be mixed with other medications containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) to avoid exceeding the maximum daily dose. It’s also not recommended to mix it with alcohol or other medications that cause drowsiness.

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