Compare Phenylephrine vs. Nyquil Cold and Flu

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Sudafed Pe
(Phenylephrine)

Nyquil Cold And Flu
(Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine)

Clears your sinuses. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a good medication for relieving stuffy nose. It doesn't work as well as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), but it has fewer side effects.Relieves cold and flu symptoms, and helps you sleep. Nyquil Cold And Flu (Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine) is a useful combination medicine that relieves cold and flu symptoms and will help you sleep. Make sure you really need all of its ingredients.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.171779141104294Phenylephrine
Reviews for Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
44%
of people say Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is worth it
23%
say it works well
10%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Nyquil Cold And Flu (Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine)
83%
+39% vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
42%
+19% vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
6%
+4% vs. Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine)
Side effects
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu

We haven’t found good data for Phenylephrine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Phenylephrine »

We haven’t found good data for Nyquil Cold and Flu side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Nyquil Cold and Flu »
How it works
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) is a decongestant. It narrows blood vessels and reduces swelling in your nasal passages to make breathing easier.Nyquil Cold And Flu (Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine) is a combination medicine that treats cold and flu symptoms. Acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. Doxylamine is an antihistamine that relieves a runny nose and makes you very sleepy.
Type of medication
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
DecongestantPrescription or OTC
Pain reliever
APAP
Cough suppressantAntihistamine
Ethanolamine derivative
Over-the-counter
Available as
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Suppository
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
Risk factors for serious side effects
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking MAO inhibitors
  • History of heart problems
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Sudafed Pe (Phenylephrine) risks & warnings »
  • Drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day
  • Taking with other Tylenol-containing medicines
  • History of liver disease
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking with other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Glaucoma
  • Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
Detailed Nyquil Cold And Flu (Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
No specific alcohol-related info.
  • Avoid using alcohol and other drugs that make you drowsy.
Food
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • The antihistamine (doxylamine) will help you sleep.
  • Avoid using alcohol and other drugs that make you drowsy.
Weight
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
  • Works to clear nasal congestion and helps you breathe better.
  • Helpful in relieving congestion-related headaches.
  • Has fewer side effects than other decongestants like pseudoephedrine.
  • It doesn't raise your blood pressure and heart rate as much, or cause as much trouble falling asleep.
  • Doesn't give you rebound congestion (worse symptoms when you stop taking it) like nasal spray decongestants do.
  • Nyquil Cold And Flu (Acetaminophen / Dextromethorphan / Doxylamine) is a combination medicine that relieves multiple cold symptoms. It's good to use if you have watery eyes, a cough, fever, and pain.
  • The cough medicine (dextromethorphan) works well and has very few side effects.
  • The pain reliever (acetaminophen) is easier on your stomach and has fewer drug interactions than other pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • The antihistamine (doxylamine) will help you sleep.
Downsides and risks
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
  • Phenylephrine doesn't last as long as other decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • Can make your heart race or make you feel anxious and restless.
  • Shouldn't use it before you want to sleep.
  • Not as effective after using it for 4 days in a row.
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
  • If you don't really need all of the medications in this combination, you're taking extra medicine and might have extra side effects for no reason.
  • To avoid hurting your liver, you have to keep track of the total amount of acetaminophen (APAP) you're taking since it's a very common ingredient in pain and cold/flu combination medicines.
  • You shouldn't use it if you have high blood pressure.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
PhenylephrineNyquil Cold and Flu
  • Starts working in 30 minutes.
  • Phenylephrine can make you restless, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
  • It's in other cold and flu combination medicines. Read labels closely so you don't accidentally double up and take too much of it in a day.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days.
  • Doxylamine (the antihistamine ingredient) can make you tired, so take it close to bedtime.
  • Follow age-specific dosing instructions on how much to take. Don't take more than recommended on the package.
  • Contains acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol or APAP. Taking too much can cause liver failure and death. Don't take more than what's recommended on the package or with other Tylenol-containing products.
  • Avoid using alcohol and other drugs that make you drowsy.
  • Let your doctor know if your symptoms don't improve in a few days, or if you have a really bad sore throat with a fever, headache, nausea, or vomiting.
Learn more
More about PhenylephrineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about Nyquil Cold and FluSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert