Mucinex and Alcohol

You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking Mucinex. Mixing alcohol and dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant in some Mucinex products, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. Alcohol and Mucinex can also cause liver damage.
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Mucinex is the brand name for several over-the-counter drugs that treat allergy, cold, and flu symptoms. Almost all Mucinex products contain guaifenesin, a medication that loosens or thins mucus to make it easier to clear from airways.

Many people take Mucinex to relieve chest or sinus congestion. Other Mucinex products contain a combination of medications that treat cough, sinus pressure, nasal and chest congestion, body pain, headache, fever and sore throat.

Mixing alcohol with Mucinex defeats the purpose of taking the medication because alcohol can cause side effects similar to the symptoms that Mucinex can relieve. Alcohol may worsen allergy symptoms such as itchy nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough and headache.

Alcohol also weakens the immune system. It prevents the body’s natural defenses from fighting illness. That’s why you shouldn’t mix alcohol with antibiotics. If you’re taking Mucinex because you’re sick, you should stay sober until you overcome the illness.

People often don’t realize the risks of mixing alcohol and over-the-counter medications, but the dangers are real. Alcohol can cause harmful interactions when combined with dextromethorphan or acetaminophen. Both medications are common ingredients in Mucinex cough and cold products.

If you have an alcohol addiction and can’t refrain from drinking, it’s best to avoid taking Mucinex altogether.

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Which Mucinex Products Interact Dangerously With Alcohol?

Guaifenesin, the generic name for Mucinex, isn’t known to interact dangerously with alcohol. However, other active ingredients in some Mucinex products, such as dextromethorphan and acetaminophen, do cause side effects when combined with alcohol.

Mucinex DM and Other Products with Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. It’s found in Mucinex DM, Mucinex Sinus-Max and Mucinex Fast-Max products.

When taken in high doses and combined with alcohol, dextromethorphan can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Overdose

Deaths have been reported when alcohol is combined with high doses of dextromethorphan, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, over-the-counter Mucinex products do not contain high enough doses of dextromethorphan to cause a deadly overdose.

Mucinex Products Containing Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol that relieves pain and headache. Acetaminophen is also found in Mucinex Fast-Max and Sinus-Max products. High doses of acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

Symptoms of liver damage caused by acetaminophen and alcohol include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Yellow skin
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Acetaminophen poisoning is different from alcohol poisoning, but both conditions can be life-threatening. Alcohol makes the liver convert acetaminophen into toxins. That’s why you shouldn’t take Mucinex Fast-Max or Mucinex Sinus-Max with alcohol. The labels of Mucinex Sinus-Max and Mucinex Fast-Max warn that consuming three or more alcoholic drinks may cause severe liver damage.

Learn how to recover from liver damage caused by alcohol

Most adults shouldn’t consume more than 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day, and Harvard Health Publishing recommends that some adults limit their daily acetaminophen intake to 3,000 milligrams. Individuals who have alcoholic liver damage or other alcoholic diseases should talk to their doctor before taking Mucinex products containing acetaminophen.

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Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.
Medical Reviewer
Ashraf Ali
Psychiatrist, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

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