Doxylamine : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More

Why is this medication prescribed?

Doxylamine is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). Doxylamine is also used in combination with decongestants and other medications to relieve sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion caused by the common cold. Doxylamine should not be used to cause drowsiness in children. Doxylamine belongs to a class of medications called antihistamines. It works by blocking the action of histamine, a substance in the body that causes allergic symptoms.

How should this medicine be used?

Doxylamine comes as a tablet to take by mouth to sleep and in combination with other medications in liquid and liquid-filled capsule form to treat symptoms of the common cold. When doxylamine is used to reduce difficulty falling asleep, it is usually taken 30 minutes before bedtime. When doxylamine is used to treat cold symptoms, it is usually taken every 4 to 6 hours. Follow the directions on the package label or your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take doxylamine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor or indicated on the package label.

Doxylamine comes alone and in combination with pain relievers, fever reducers, and cough suppressants. If you choose a product to treat cough or cold symptoms, ask your doctor or pharmacist which product is best for your symptoms. Check the labels on over-the-counter cough and cold products carefully before using two or more products at the same time. These products may contain the same active ingredient (s) and taking them together could cause you to overdose.

Over-the-counter cough and cold products, including products that contain doxylamine, can cause serious side effects or death in young children. Do not give over-the-counter products that contain doxylamine to children younger than 4 years old. Ask a doctor before giving these products to children 4 to 12 years old.

Cough and cold symptoms that get worse or do not go away may be signs of a more serious condition. If you are taking doxylamine in combination with other medicines to treat cough and cold symptoms, call your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if they last more than 7 days.

If you are taking doxylamine to treat insomnia, you will probably feel very drowsy shortly after taking the medicine and will remain sleepy for some time after taking the medicine. Plan to stay asleep for 7 to 8 hours after taking the medicine. If you wake up too soon after taking doxylamine, you may feel drowsy.

Doxylamine should only be used to treat insomnia for a short time. Call your doctor if you feel you need to take doxylamine for more than 2 weeks.

If you are using the liquid, do not use a homemade spoon to measure your dose. Use the measuring cup or spoon that came with the medicine, or use a spoon that is specially made for measuring medicine.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking doxylamine,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to doxylamine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in the doxylamine preparation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist or check the package label for a list of the ingredients.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: medications for colds, hay fever, or allergies; medications for depression; muscle relaxants; narcotic pain medication; sedative sleeping medications; and tranquilizers.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or other breathing problems; glaucoma (a condition in which increased pressure in the eye can lead to gradual loss of vision); ulcers; difficulty urinating (due to an enlarged prostate); heart disease, high blood pressure, seizures, or an overactive thyroid gland.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking doxylamine, call your doctor.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking doxylamine.
  • You should know that this medicine may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Remember that alcohol can increase the drowsiness caused by this drug. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking this medicine.
  • Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking doxylamine if you are 65 or older. Older adults should generally not take doxylamine because it is not as safe or effective as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Doxylamine is usually taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take doxylamine regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Doxylamine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • dry mouth, nose, and throat
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • increased chest congestion
  • headache
  • excitement
  • nervousness

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • vision problems
  • difficulty urinating

Doxylamine can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program ( or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach.

Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.

What other information should I know?

Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about doxylamine.

It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.

Brand Names

  • Aldex AN®
  • Nighttime Sleep Aid
  • Unisom® SleepTabs

Brand names of combination products

  • Alka-Seltzer Plus® Night Cold Formula (containing Aspirin, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine, Phenylephrine)
  • Coricidin® HBP Nighttime Multi-Symptom Cold (containing Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)
  • Tylenol® Cold and Cough Nighttime (containing Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)
  • Vicks NyQuil® Cold and Flu Relief (containing Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)
  • Vicks NyQuil® Cold and Flu Symptom Relief Plus Vitamin C (containing Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)
  • Vicks NyQuil® Cough (containing Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)
  • Vicks NyQuil® Sinex Nighttime Sinus Relief (containing Acetaminophen, Doxylamine, Phenylephrine)
  • Zicam® Multi-Symptom Cold and Flu Nighttime (containing Acetaminophen, Dextromethorphan, Doxylamine)

Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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