DayQuil: 3 Active Ingredients, Dosage & Side Effects

DayQuil is an all-in-one drug that can treat the symptoms of common cold and flu without causing you to feel drowsy. One feature of many drugs that treat common cold and flu is that they come with sleep and drowsiness that makes one difficult to carry on with daily activities. DayQuil is one of the drugs in the market that does not instigate sleep and at the same time does not reduce its potency. Read on to learn about the uses of DayQuil for the treatment of cold and flu as well as its dosage, ingredients, side effects and interactions with other drugs.


DayQuil is a drug that is used in treating the symptoms of common cold and flu temporarily. This drug is made with active ingredients like acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine. Just like the name, this drug is designed to be used during the day, this is because it does not contain an ingredient known as doxylamine, which is an antihistamine that can make you feel sleepy. 

DayQuil can be used to relieve the symptoms of common colds and flu like:

  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat and bronchial irritation
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Mild pain and aches


Some uses of DayQuil are:

  • It treats nasal congestion by reducing the swollen blood vessels in the nasal passage.
  • One of the ingredients changes how the body senses pain thereby relieving pain
  • It suppresses and reduces the urge to cough.
  • It reduces fever by regulating the body’s temperature.


DayQuil is a combination of three active ingredients which are:

1. Acetaminophen (325 Mg)

Acetaminophen (APAP) is a non-opioid analgesic and antipyretic agent. This is responsible for relieving pain and reducing fever by stopping the production of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are responsible for causing fever and pain, dayquil can relieve pain and fever because of the presence of this ingredient.

2. Dextromethorphan (10 Mg)

This is a cough suppressant, it works on the brain by activating some opioid receptors in the central nervous system and suppress the cough reflex. DayQuil calms down cough because of dextromethorphan.

3. Phenylephrine (5 Mg)

Phenylephrine clears out stuffy nose and sinuses. It works by tightening blood vessels and making it difficult for much fluid to leak out. 

Other inactive ingredients are:

  • FD&C Red No. Atin
  • Glycerin
  • Polyethylene Glycol
  • Povidone
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Purified Water
  • Sorbital Sorbitan Solution
  • Titanium Dioxide


It comes in two forms and their dosage differs.

These forms are:

  1. Liquid solution that has 325 mg, 10 mg, 5 mg and 15 ml
  2. LiquiCaps, a capsule filled with liquid and comes in 325 mg, 10 mg and 5 mg.

The recommended dosage for the liquid form is:

  • Adults and children who are 12 and above should take 30 ml every 4 hours. You should not take more than 4 doses in 24 hours. 
  • Children from 6 to 11 years are to take 15 ml every 4 hours. They should not take more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
  • Children who are between 4 and 5 years should have their dose prescribed by a doctor. You should not use in children who are younger than 4 years.

Recommended dosage for the LiquiCaps form is:

  • Adults and children who are 12 years and older should take 2 capsules every 4 hours, you should not take more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
  • Children between the ages of 11 to 4 years should see a doctor for prescription for their dose. 
  • Do not use for children under the age of 4.


Just like other drugs, DayQuil can cause side effects. Some of these effects do not need medical attention but they go away after your body has adjusted to the drug. You only need to see a doctor if they persist or become serious.

Some common side effects are:

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble with sleeping

Some serious side effects that needs medical attention are:

  • Rashes on the skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Redness of the skin
  • Peeling and blistering of the skin
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, throat, lips, hands, feet, legs and ankles.


It is recommended to take DayQuil every 4 hours, you can take the drug every 6 to 8 hours. You should not exceed 4 doses within 24 hours. It relieves cold and flu for 4 hours, this is why you are to take another dose after 4 hours till you are cured. You should not take it for long term use, it is not meant for it. You should only take this drug when needed to treat your common cold and flu within a short period of time.

If you have cough that lasts more than 7 days, sore throat that lasts more than 2 days or fever that continues after 3 days, you are to discontinue using the drug and see your doctor. These symptoms may be caused by another disease.  Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to overdose.

Some symptoms that shows overdose of DayQuil are:

  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Trouble with urinating
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pain in the stomach


It does not have any stimulants so it cannot keep you awake. It also cannot make you sleepy because there are no ingredients that can cause drowsiness. You should not take dayquil to stay awake because you will not get results as there is no caffeine or other stimulating ingredients. 

However, it can cause sleeplessness in some people. The ingredient dextromethorphan can cause nervousness in some people thereby leading to inability to sleep. This ingredient is also classified morphinan class of medications with dissociative, and stimulant properties although in very small dose. 


These are two drugs from the same company, they also do the same work which is to treat symptoms of common cold and flu. However, there are difference between both.

DayQuil is designed to be used during the day while nyquil is to be used at night. DayQuil does not cause drowsiness and it is made with phenylephrine, an active ingredient that helps to clear stuffy nose. Nyquil on the other hand, is made with a sedating antihistamine and can cause drowsiness which is best for the night. Some nyquil have 10 percent alcohol while dayquil does not have any trace to alcohol. 


Some pros are:

  • It is easily accessible and can be gotten over-the-counter
  • It does not cause drowsiness 
  • The effects of the drug starts in 30 minutes
  • It is made with 3 active ingredients that can treat all the symptoms of common cold and flu
  • It can be gotten as a lower-cost generic


  • It cannot be used for long term
  • You have to take the drug many times a day
  • It cannot be used in children below the age of 4
  • There is risk of liver damage if alcohol is often taken while using the drug
  • It can raise blood pressure.


The drive ingredients in dayquil can affect how other drugs work or lead to harmful side effects.

The acetaminophen for example, can interact with drugs like:

  • Warfarin
  • Phenobarbital
  • Carbamazepine
  • Isoniazid
  • Phenytoin
  • Phenothiazines

The phenylephrine and dextromethorphan on the other hand can interact with a group of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) even till 2 weeks after use.

Examples of these monoamine oxidase inhibitors are:

  • Phenelzine
  • Selegiline
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Isocarboxazid


There are some instructions you need to adhere to when using DayQuil.

  • These warnings are:
  • Do not drink more than 3 glasses of alcohol while taking DayQuil, if possible, you should avoid alcohol as this can increase your risk of developing liver disease because of the acetaminophen in it.
  • If you have used monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) in the past 2 weeks or is still using it, you should not take dayquil. Doing so can lead to serotonin syndrome.
  • If you experience any of the serious side effects, you should stop using the drug and see a doctor.
  • If your cough, cold and sore throat continue after a week, you should see a doctor as they may be caused by another disease.
  • Do not use dayquil if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes, thyroid disease or enlarged prostate. They can lead to more serious complications.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dosage as it can increase your risk of developing liver disease from excess acetaminophen.
  • Do not use dayquil to treat other health conditions other than common cold, cough and sore throat.


DayQuil is a combination of acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and phenylephrine. It is used to temporarily treat symptoms of common cold and flu. It is meant to be taken 4 time a day to get maximum results and fast healing. Use the drug according to the dosage and instructions to avoid overdosing or increasing your risk of having serious complications.

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