Is It Safe To Take NyQuil™ While Pregnant?

Published July 8th, 2022 by Bridget Reed
Fact Checked by
Camille Freking
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

It isn’t uncommon to get sick during pregnancy, but getting the same level of relief you get when you aren’t pregnant can be a challenge.

Many of the medications you rely on to deal with cold and flu symptoms aren’t safe to take at certain times during your pregnancy. 

Many medications come in varying formulas, which complicate matters further. NyQuil™, for instance, is available in the following formulas: 

  • Alcohol-Free NyQuil™ Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief 
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief XX
  • NyQuil™ Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™   
  • NyQuil™ Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • NyQuil™ Cough DM + Congestion Relief Liquid XX
  • NyQuil™ HBP Cold and Flu Medicine
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE Berry Cold and Flu Relief Liquid 
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE Cough, Cold, and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™ 
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE Honey Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • NyQuil™ SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief

Some of these formulas may be safe for you to use during pregnancy, but ingredients in some of them could be off-limits, especially during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

You should talk to your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy, including all forms of NyQuil. 

Here, we’ll cover the ingredients in NyQuil™, including ones that may not be safe for pregnancy. We’ll also give you some natural solutions to help you get relief and rest when you’re sick. 

pregnant woman reading medication sheet

Ingredients in NyQuil™

The ingredients in NyQuil™ vary depending on the formula you select.

The active ingredients that give each formula its ability to relieve your cold and flu symptoms need to be examined to determine if they are safe during pregnancy. 

Acetaminophen 

This ingredient is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain reliever found in every formula of NyQuil available.

It is considered generally safe for use during pregnancy in low doses and for short periods. 

Thus, the presence of this pain reliever (which could help you get relief from sore throat, headache, and fever) should be no cause for alarm during pregnancy. 

Doxylamine Succinate

This ingredient is an antihistamine used to treat symptoms of allergies.

It is generally considered safe during pregnancy and has even been studied on its ability to help decrease symptoms of nausea experienced during pregnancy. 

The following formulas of NyQuil™ contain this ingredient: 

  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief
  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™  
  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • HBP Cold and Flu Medicine
  • SEVERE Berry Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cough, Cold, and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™
  • SEVERE Honey Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief

Chlorpheniramine Maleate

This is an antihistamine found in only one NyQuil™ product, NyQuil™ Alcohol-Free Cold and Flu.

This antihistamine is recommended as an alternative to other antihistamines and is safe for use during pregnancy.

Phenylephrine HCI 

By constricting blood vessels, nasal decongestants help you breathe easier and reduce sinus pressure when you are sick. However, this ingredient is not recommended during pregnancy. 

Due to an increased risk of congenital disabilities during the first trimester and the possibility of increased maternal blood pressure, it’s good to avoid this ingredient unless instructed by your doctor. 

NyQuil™ formulas that contain this ingredient are:  

  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief
  • Cough DM + Congestion Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Berry Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cough, Cold, and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™
  • SEVERE Honey Cold and Flu Relief Liquid*
  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief

*This product does not contain an “active” amount of the ingredient. It contains 5mg, a lower dose than the remaining formulas. 

Dextromethorphan HBr

Nothing is worse than a nagging cough when pregnant, and this ingredient helps NyQuil™ products relieve cough symptoms. It is considered safe for use during pregnancy. 

NyQuil™ formulas that contain dextromethorphan HBr include:  

  • Alcohol-Free Cold and Flu
  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief
  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™  
  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • Cough DM + Congestion Relief Liquid
  • HBP Cold and Flu Medicine
  • SEVERE Berry Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE Cough, Cold, and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™
  • SEVERE Honey Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief

Alcohol

You might be surprised to find alcohol in your cold and cough medicine, but it’s a very common ingredient.

Alcohol is used in liquid medications to help dissolve the other active ingredients in the formula. Thus, alcohol is not considered an active ingredient. 

There is no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant person to consume. As such, it’s important to avoid alcohol, even in medication. 

NyQuil™ formulas that include alcohol are:  

  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquid
  • HBP Cold and Flu Medicine
  • SEVERE Cold and Flu Relief Liquid
  • SEVERE VapoCOOL Nighttime Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief

Which NyQuil™ Formulas Are Safe?

Only some formulas of NyQuil™ are safe to take while you are pregnant.  These formulas do not contain alcohol or phenylephrine HCI. These are: 

  • Alcohol-Free NyQuil™ Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief 
  • Cold and Flu Nighttime Relief Liquicaps™  

Before you consider taking these medications, always check with your doctor to ensure they are safe for you and your pregnancy.

If you’d rather not take these medications, there are other cold and flu remedies you can try that are all-natural.

What Are Some Natural Cold Remedies?

A cold can be miserable even when you are not pregnant, but being pregnant makes it harder for your body to fight the germs, making your symptoms feel more severe.

Here, we’ll cover how to get non-medicated relief for some of the most common cold and flu symptoms. 

Congestion 

A stuffy nose makes breathing difficult during the day, but it can make it almost impossible to sleep at night. To get relief, try these methods.

  • A humidifier. Sleeping with a humidifier in your room keeps the air moist and prevents your mucous membranes from becoming too dry, making it easier for you to breathe easily. 
  • A neti pot. A neti pot is a sinus rinse that utilizes salt and water to clear out nasal passages and help you breathe easier. You can also use a saline nasal spray, which will provide the same results and is arguably easier than the neti pot. 

Coughing

Unfortunately, coughs are usually worse at night than during the day, which can interfere with your sleep. You can help ease a cough with these at-home remedies.

  • Sleeping on your side. You likely already sleep on your side during pregnancy, but if not, sleeping on your side with your head propped up on a few pillows will help mucus move out of your throat and chest. 
  • A humidifier. Using a humidifier can also help you avoid dry air in and out of your lungs, which can cause you to cough more at nighttime. 

Sore Throat

If you’d like to avoid taking over-the-counter pain medication during pregnancy, you can try these tips to help soothe a sore throat. 

  • Honey. For raw and scratchy throats, a thick coat of honey helps provide lubrication and analgesic relief. 
  • Saltwater. When your throat is extremely sore, try mixing a teaspoon of table salt into warm water until it is dissolved. Gargle for 30 seconds and expel. Repeat as necessary for relief. 

Chills and Fever

Having a fever usually makes you feel lethargic. Fevers are technically a good symptom because it causes you to slow down and rest. Your body needs to rest the most when you are sick, especially when you are sick and pregnant. 

Try these soothing techniques to feel better when you have a fever. 

  • A warm bath. Hopping in a warm bath (no hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) can help warm you up and relax your body. Be sure only to spend 10 to 15 minutes in the bath to ensure your core body temperature doesn’t rise. 
  • Drink more water. Staying hydrated helps your body battle your cold and also helps ensure your fever doesn’t get too high. 

Pregnancy Safety

The medication you take during pregnancy can have a detrimental effect on your baby, so it’s important to always check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication.

If you’re suffering from a cold and your doctor has given you the green light to take NyQuil™, make sure you take the lowest recommended dose possible and for only a short time. 

Using at-home natural cold and flu remedies can help you get relief from symptoms even when you are taking medication. Try a combination of both to help your body get better fast. 

References, Studies and Sources:

Vicks NyQuil FAQ | Vicks

Acetaminophen risk in pregnancy: What patients need to know | UTSW Med.org 

FDA Approved Diclegis for the Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnant Women | Pharmacy.HSC.WVU.edu 

A review of antihistamines used during pregnancy | PMC 

Treating the common cold during pregnancy | PMC 

Put drug prices & coupons in your pocket!

We'll text you a link to download our free Android or iPhone app