Yes, you can take cold and flu medicines at night.
If you take a sleep aid, you shouldn’t take any other medicines at night.
If you have a cold or flu, you can take your medicine at the same time every day.
If you have a cold, you can also take your medicine within the first 2 days of your illness.
You can take a non-aspirin pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), as needed.
You can take a cough suppressant, such as dextromethorphan (Mucinex, Robitussin), at bedtime.
You can also take an antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), for 7 days after your symptoms have resolved.
If you have a fever, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol), which is available over the counter (OTC), and ibuprofen, which is available OTC.
You can also take acetaminophen, but not ibuprofen, if you’re pregnant, are breastfeeding, or have a heart condition.
Your doctor can tell you more about which medicines are safe to take at night.
Are you at higher risk for side effects from cold and flu medicine?
You are at higher risk of side effects if you:
- Take a sleep aid
- Have heart disease or liver disease
- Take a cough suppressant
- Take a medication that slows down your breathing
- Take a medication that lowers your blood pressure
Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant before you take any medicine.
Are there any other risks?
Taking cold and flu medicine at night can potentially cause side effects.
These side effects may include:
- Difficulty concentrating
These side effects are more likely if you take your medicine too close to bedtime.
If you have any of these side effects, you shouldn’t take your medicine at bedtime.
You can take your medicine at any time during the day, but take it with food or milk if you’re not hungry.
If you take an OTC pain reliever, you shouldn’t take an NSAID pain reliever without first talking to your doctor.
If you take an NSAID, follow the directions on the package.
What other medicines should I take at bedtime?
You should also take any other medicines as directed by your doctor.
These medicines may be used to treat cold and flu symptoms:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen
- Antiviral medicines
Tell your doctor about any other medicines you’re taking. This includes vitamins and supplements. Using too much of a medicine can cause side effects.
What are the benefits of taking cold and flu medicine at bedtime?
Taking medicines at bedtime may help improve your sleep.
It may also help ease symptoms like:
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
When should you start and stop taking cold and flu medicine?
You should start taking your medicine after your symptoms start.
You should stop taking it if your symptoms go away in a few days.
If you need to take more than one medicine, take it only once each day.
When can I go home from the hospital after having a cold or flu?
You can go home from the hospital if you have symptoms like:
- A fever
- Sore, painful throat
- Severe headache
You should go home after you get better if your symptoms last for less than 1 week.
If you can’t go home, you can go home after 1 week if you:
- Have a high fever
- Have a chest infection
- Feel very tired or weak
- Have nausea or vomiting
If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t go home from the hospital until your baby is born.
You should also avoid going home if you have a fever and you’re under age 1.
You shouldn’t go home if you’re under age 2.
What about cough and cold medications?
Cough and cold medications like Robitussin Cough and Cold, and Zicam Cough and Cold are available OTC.
These medicines can be used to relieve symptoms of a cold or cough.
These medicines also offer relief from a sore throat.
Your doctor can tell you more about which medicines are safe to take at bedtime.
Are cold and flu medicines safe to take at night?
Cold and flu medicines are safe to take at night.
Cold and flu medicines are also safe to take when you’re asleep.
If you take a sleep aid, you shouldn’t take any other medicines at bedtime.
You can take your cold and flu medicine at any time during the day.
Talk to your doctor about the best time to take your medicine.
When should you see a doctor about your cold or flu?
It may be a sign of a more serious illness if you:
- Have a high temperature
- Have a fever
- Have any chest pain
- Have a rash
- Have a stiff neck
- Have a headache
If you think you have a serious illness, see your doctor right away.
How can I prevent getting a cold or flu?
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent getting a cold or flu.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
If you’re sick, avoid close contact with people who are sick. That means don’t spend time in the same room as someone who is sick.
If you’re in a group of people who are sick, stay at least 6 feet away from them.
Wash your hands frequently
Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs.
Use a humidifier
A humidifier can help keep the air in your house moist.
Avoid air conditioning
If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, you may want to avoid using air conditioning.
Take care of your home
If you’re sick, make sure to clean your house and wash your bedding.
Don’t stay in bed
If you’re sick, stay in bed if you can. That means you should avoid activities that require you to be upright.
If you can’t stay in bed, try to keep your body at least 6 feet away from others.
What’s a safe dose of cold and flu medicine?
The following is a general guide about how much medicine to take. It may not work for everyone.
Adults and children over age 6:
- Take 1 to 2 drops of the medicine in a glass of water.
- Take 2 to 4 times a day until your symptoms go away.
Children under 6:
- Take 1 to 2 drops of the medicine in a glass of fluid.
- Take 2 to 4 times a day until your symptoms go away or they get better.
Adults and children over age 18:
- Take 1 to 2 drops of the medicine in a glass of fluid, or 1 to 2 capsules.
- Take 2 to 4 times a day until your symptoms go away or they get worse.
Cold and flu medicines can help relieve symptoms of a cold or flu.
Talk to your doctor about when you should take your medicine.
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