Everything You Need to Know About Dayquil

holding pills

Every flu season, millions of Americans head over to the nearest drugstore to stock up on Dayquil and Nyquil. These cold medicines are some of the most poplar over-the-counter medication in the country. Parents give their children Nyquil when they have a stuffy nose and fever whereas adults take Dayquil if they’re feeling poorly during the workday.

Although you’re aware that Dayquil is non-drowsy and can be used in the morning, how exactly does Dayquil keep you awake? What is the key difference between Dayquil and Nyquil? In terms of dosage, how often should you take Dayquil? And how can flu medication be addictive?

What is the Difference Between Dayquil and Nyquil?

pills next to the bottle
Dayquil and Nyquil are ubiquitous in American medicine cabinets.

Everyone knows that Dayquil helps alleviate the symptoms of flu and cold without causing drowsiness like Nyquil. Just like myths about banana spiders, there are plenty of misconceptions surrounding this ability.

People often claim that the difference between Dayquil and Nyquil is that the latter contains alcohol. Although its true that both these medications contain at least 10 percent alcohol, it’s not the ingredient that’s responsible for the drowsiness associated with taking cold medicine.

Although Dayquil does in fact provide relief for flu symptoms, like a combination of Advil and cough medicine, it doesn’t render the user sleepy. But how does Dayquil keep you awake? This is because they have a major difference in ingredients. Both types of flu medicine share much of the same major ingredients such as acetaminophen, which treats all sorts of body pain, and dextromethorphan, which provides cough relief. However, Dayquil does not contain doxylamine.

Doxylamine is the active ingredient in Nyquil that helps relive runny noses and nasal congestion. It works by making your body stop producing chemicals that irritate your nasal passage such as histamine and acetylcholine. Its primary side effect is that it also makes you very sleepy, which is not ideal if you want to be productive or want to get rid of cold symptoms during the day.

Dayquil uses a different active chemical called phenylephrine to stop your runny nose. Unlike doxylamine, phenylephrine works by reducing the swelling in your respiratory system and ears. This makes you more comfortable and lets you breath easier. It also manages to accomplish this without making you drowsy. The simple substation of these two ingredients makes the primary difference between Dayquil and Nyquil.

This makes Dayquil the flu medication of choice for busy adults and teens who need to get stuff done without being overwhelmed by their cold symptoms.

What is the Recommended Usage of Dayquil?

pharmacist holding pill capsules
Even flu medication like Dayquil need to be taken carefully.

Because of how useful Dayquil can be to busy adults who want to overcome their flu symptoms, some people may be taking more doses than is strictly necessary. Overdoing any medication, even something as innocuous as flu medicine, can be as risky as taking expired supplements.

So what is the ideal dosage of Dayquil? How often you should take Dayquil depends on the age of who’s taking it and what form of the medicine you’re using. This is because of how long Dayquil lasts in your system.

For children below the age of 4 years old, experts say that you should never use any form of Dayquil and Nyquil. Their bodies are not yet suited for the effects of these medications and you should talk to your doctor about their treatment instead.

For children between 6 and 11 years old, you should only give them 15 milligrams of liquid Dayquil every 4 hours. Because of limitations, you should not give kids these age more than 4 doses within a 24-hour period.

With adults and children older than 12 years, you can give them two capsule every 4 hours. For liquid medicine, you should give 30 milligrams of Dayquil every 4 hours. The same restriction of not taking more than 4 doses in a 24-hour period still applies.

Why are Dayquil and Nyquil Addictive?

putting back pills in the bottle
Dayquil can be dangerous if taken in high enough dosages.

One of the primary reasons medical professionals don’t recommend more than 4 doses of Dayquil in a single day is because both Dayquil and Nyquil can be potentially addictive. This is because of one of their shared ingredient dextromethorphan. This chemical ingredient alleviates cough symptoms but can also be abused for its psychological effects.

The abuse of dextromethorphan is called robotripping and involves taking more than the recommended dose of the medication. Because dextromethorphan is abundantly found in Dayquil and this drug can be bought over the counter, it’s the preferred substance for robotrippers.

Overuse of this drug and taking too much Dayquil can cause high blood pressure and even impair breathing. Since it also interferes with cardiac functions, you can suffer from respiratory arrest, heatstroke and chemical toxicity. For these reasons, you should listen to your doctors when they tell you how often you should take Dayquil.

Drugs like Dayquil are important staples of every medicine cabinet. But even the most innocuous medication can be misused without proper information. Learning the facts about Dayquil can help prevent a medical emergency in your home.

About the Author

Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The content on the website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


    Scroll to Top