When you start to exhibit cold and flu symptoms, like a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, you are probably used to being able to reach for your favorite over-the-counter medications to relieve those symptoms and get you back to health as soon as possible.
Nyquil is a favorite over-the-counter medication for cold and flu season, as it not only helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms but it also helps you sleep, which is hard to do when you have the flu or even the common cold.
Pregnant women have to be a little more careful, however. A lot of things that were okay to ingest before they were expecting are now off-limits, and this includes many over-the-counter medicines. But what about Nyquil? Can you take Nyquil while pregnant?
This article will help you navigate through the many different types of Nyquil, explaining which medicines are safe to take. We’ll also discuss other methods of treating your cold and flu symptoms and even how to boost your immune system, so you’re less likely to get sick.
Can you take Nyquil while pregnant?
The American Pregnancy Association insists that you should limit and reduce the amount of over-the-counter medications you take when ill, but sometimes you just can’t get any relief and need something, even if just a fever reducer or cough suppressant.
Some medications are safer than others. And some medications should be avoided entirely. Always consult your doctor when considering taking any sort of medication.
What is Nyquil?
Nyquil is a brand of cold and flu nighttime relief liquid that is also available in pill form (some of its medications). It is used to relieve minor aches, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, and sleeplessness that cold symptoms can cause.
Cold medicines such as Nyquil liquid, however, while treating your cold and flu, can also pose fetal and neonatal risks due to the fact that there is alcohol in some of its various medications. Alcohol, in any quantity, can cause things like birth defects in a fetus and can also pose a risk to breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
The first trimester is a particularly risky time to take any sort of medication as a cold or flu remedy.
What is in the medication?
Nyquil liquid forms contain ten percent alcohol. If you were wondering exactly how much that is, consider the fact that most bottles of beer contain just five percent.
Granted, you’re most likely not planning to consume the entire bottle of Nyquil cold medicine in one go. However, any time you consume something with any alcohol content, especially in the first trimester, you risk issues such as birth defects. Alcohol intake of any type while pregnant is not a good idea.
Other major ingredients in Nyquil are acetaminophen (pain reliever) and doxylamine succinate (antihistamine).
While neither of these ingredients has been studied conclusively enough to show that they can cause harm to a fetus or pregnant woman, they should still be used in moderation and only with the approval of a doctor.
Taking Nyquil if you have hypertension (high blood pressure) can also pose an added risk, as the ingredients can narrow the blood vessels in the nasal passages in an effort to reduce nasal congestion and can increase blood pressure for some people.
There are also side effects associated with any medication that you take. Aside from the increased blood pressure you may risk with Nyquil, you may also end up with some stomach pain.
The three types of Nyquil
There are three types of Nyquil on the market, and they aren’t all safe to take when you’re pregnant. Knowing the difference between the three is of utmost importance for the safety of yourself and your baby.
The following are the three types of Nyquil medications.
Nyquil Cold and Flu
Nyquil should not be taken at all in its liquid forms. However, this medication can be taken in moderation in its Nyquil Liquicaps form. It can help with common symptoms of the cold and flu: sore throat, minor aches and pains, fever, headache, cough, sneezing, and runny nose.
Nyquil Severe Cold and Flu
Due to the alcohol content of Nyquil Severe Cold and Flu, this particular type of Nyquil cold medication is not recommended. There have been links related to birth defects in babies when taking this medication, especially in early pregnancy. Nyquil Severe Cold and Flu is one of the flu medicines that you should outright avoid when you have a severe cold or flu.
Just like with Nyquil Cold and Flu, Nyquil Cough has not been positively linked with risk to a fetus or pregnant woman. Considered generally safe as long as it is not taken in liquid form, you should still always check with your doctor before taking Nyquil of any kind.
Alcohol-free Nyquil cold
Formulated to stand out as “safer” when compared to Nyquil Severe Cold and Flu, this formula by Nyquil is alcohol-free. However, because it is still a blend of other medications, you should proceed with caution and ask your doctor if you should use this formula for things like body aches and other cold symptoms.
Some doctors will tell you that it’s safe to take, while others will tell a pregnant woman to avoid Nyquil at all due to the small elevated risk associated with the ingredients in the nasal decongestant.
What can I take for a cold while pregnant?
If you need relief, especially from your nighttime symptoms, but want to avoid Nyquil products, you may be better off choosing a different medication from the pharmacy shelf or trying something natural. Fetal development and the risk of harmful effects from the active ingredients of some medications may have you looking for alternative measures.
The following are some other ideas for when you’re feeling the flu’s effects, which are generally considered safer than Nyquil.
1. Acetaminophen for a high fever
If you have a fever, you can take acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, to bring it down to a manageable level so that you can get some sleep. When taken appropriately and in moderation, Tylenol is safe to take during pregnancy.
2. Saltwater for sore throat
If your throat is in pain, try filling a glass with warm water and adding some salt to it. Mix this together, and then gargle with it. You can do this as often as needed to relieve pain and scratchiness in the throat. Warm salt water poses almost no risk, so long as you don’t swallow it. If swallowed, the salt can cause dehydration.
3. Ice chips
Another alternative to Nyquil products is sucking on ice chips to alleviate an aching throat. The ice will help to soothe your throat and can even help to partially numb it so that you can fall asleep.
4. Prenatal vitamins
If you are pregnant, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin every day. Make sure that yours contains the necessary amount of Vitamin C. This particular vitamin can help you boost your immune system so that you are sick less often.
5. Nasal strips
If your nose is stuffed, try some nasal strips. They can help to open your nostrils and get you the air you need to sleep. The benefits outweigh the risks here, and it’s safer to use than Nyquil products.
6. Flu Shot
Getting your yearly flu shot is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and can help you to stay healthy each year when the flu strikes.
Pregnant women need as much rest as they can get, which can be difficult when you’re sick. While some types of Nyquil are considered okay to take, avoid using the Severe Cold blend and always consult your doctor before taking any medication. There are also other options besides Nyquil products, as discussed, that can reduce or even eliminate risk to yourself or your baby.