Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is NyQuil Bad For You?

Also Known As: NyQuil Cold & Flu



Short answer

Unless you are on other medication or have another condition, NyQuil will most likely do its job without any problems. However, there are risks and if you have any inkling you may have a problem, speak to your doctor before using Nyquil.



Long answer

NyQuil is a medicine that is used to treat a wide variety of symptoms related to the common cold, flu, allergies, and other congestion problems. It is most likely safe, but does carry a set of risks people need to be aware of. The first thing to understand is that there is a risk, albeit small, of various side-effects. These include drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, upset stomach, and nausea. In the case of an overdose, NyQuil may cause the previously mentioned side-effects as well as a loss of consciousness and/or seizure. Side-effects are more likely to occur in children -- NyQuil is not approved for children under six years old. 

NyQuil is composed of several active ingredients: antihistamines, dextromethorphan (and antitussive), decongestant, and acetaminophen (non-aspirin painkiller and fever reducer). These work together to combat congestion, fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, mild pain (such as a headache), and other symptoms related to the flu or common cold (or other congestion problems, such as sinusitis). 

If you have any other health problems or are taking medication, you should discuss with your doctor whether or not NyQuil is safe as there is a laundry list of negative interactions and risks for people with various health problems or on other medication. Among the people most at risk for serious problems taking NyQuil are those who are diabetic, have hyperthyroidism, or have heart problems. Also, people taking MAO inhibitors should not take NyQuil within two weeks of the inhibitor as the result can be fatal. It should also be mentioned that NyQuil can become addictive if abused regularly.

All in all, NyQuil does what it is supposed to do and the vast majority of people do not experience any negative side-effects. 

Possible short-term side effects

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • seizure (from overdose)

Possible long-term side effects

  • addiction / dependency

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • headache
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping

Ingredients to be aware of

  • antihistamine
  • dextromethorpan
  • decongestant
  • acetaminophen


  • treats runny nose
  • treats congestion
  • decreases fever
  • treats cough
  • helps reduce headaches

Healthier alternatives

  • garlic
  • ginger tea
  • chicken noodle soup

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-22-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-22-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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