Doxylamine (doxylamine succinate)

What is doxylamine?

Doxylamine has different uses in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Doxylamine is an antihistamine, which means it can be used to treat the symptoms of hay fever and other respiratory allergies. In a higher dose, doxylamine can be used to help with occasional sleeplessness. It can be found in multi-symptom relief or combination cough, cold, and flu remedies. It is also available as a single ingredient in nighttime sleep-aid medicines, which should only be taken at bedtime or when you have time for a full night’s rest.

What is doxylamine used to treat?

  • Hay fever
  • Respiratory allergies
  • Sleeplessness
Common brands containing doxylamine:
  • Coricidin
  • Unisom
  • Vicks
  • Store brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health’s store brand)

How much doxylamine can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for doxylamine

Doxylamine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You have asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, glaucoma, or trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.
  • You are currently taking any other medicines.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Before giving an OTC cough, cold, or flu medicine to a child under the age of 6.

Do not use if:

  • You are currently taking a prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or if you stopped taking an MAOI less than two weeks ago.
  • You are taking a prescription drug for depression, a psychiatric or emotional condition, or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Do not give an OTC cough, cold, or flu medicine containing doxylamine to a child under the age of 4.
  • Do not give a nighttime sleep aid to a child under the age of 12.
  • Never use doxylamine or any OTC medicine to sedate or make a child sleepy.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You are taking a nighttime sleep aid and your sleeplessness persists for more than two weeks. Insomnia may be a symptom of a serious medical illness.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of doxylamine?

  • When using medicines containing doxlyamine, significant drowsiness may occur. You should avoid alcoholic drinks and use care when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.