No, liquid medications are no more effective than capsules

When you visit your local pharmacy to buy over-the-counter medicines, you will typically find that you can buy many medicines in liquid, capsule, or tablet form.

But some TikTok users want to know if liquid medications, like DayQuil or NyQuil, are more effective than capsules.

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Are liquid medications more effective than capsules?



No, liquid medications are no more effective than capsules.


Liquid and capsules contain the same amount of medicine and work equally well for treating an illness, according to medical researchers, but liquid medicine absorbs slightly faster than capsules.

When the human body begins to metabolize a drug, different organs process the ingredients before they’re finally released into the bloodstream, according to the Orlando Clinical Research Center. The vast majority of over-the-counter cold and flu medications are taken orally and are broken down within the gastrointestinal tract at different rates, the research center says.

Cold and flu medications are usually given as liquid syrup, a capsule filled with liquid, or as a solid tablet or pill. VERIFY checked the labels of DayQuil and NyQuil Cold & Flu Relief, which are sold in liquid and liquid-filled capsule forms, and found that both forms contained the same amount of medication for an adult dose, the only difference it is the rate at which the medicine is absorbed.

In terms of absorption speed, generally, liquid would be fastest, liquid caps would rank second, and then tablets and capsules would rank third, said Phillip Gerk, Ph.D., vice chair of the Department of Virginia Commonwealth University Pharmaceuticals.

Each 30 milliliter dose of DayQuil Cold & Flu liquid medicine contains 650 milligrams of paracetamol (pain reliever/fever reducer), 20 milligrams of dextromethorphan HBr (cough suppressant), and 10 milligrams of phenylephrine HCl (nasal decongestant). Two capsules filled with DayQuil liquid contain the same ingredients.

Meanwhile, each 30-milliliter dose of NyQuil Cold & Flu liquid medicine contains 650 milligrams of acetaminophen, 30 milligrams of dextromethorphan HBr, and 12.5 milligrams of 12.5 mg doxylamine succinate (antihistamine). Two capsules filled with NyQuil liquid contain the same ingredients. Even the generic versions of the drugs contain the same formulations.

The Orlando Clinical Research Center explains that after a drug is taken by mouth, it is broken down by stomach acids before it passes through the liver and enters the bloodstream. Gerk says the liquid absorbs faster than liquid-filled capsules or tablets because it basically just needs to mix with body fluid, while the others have shells that need to break down or dissolve first.

But he says the time it takes for liquid-filled capsules and tablets to completely dissolve doesn’t make much of a difference.

So between those three different types of dosage forms I mentioned, we’re talking a difference of minutes, rather than hours, Gerk told VERIFY.

Thus, we can VERIFY that liquid medications are no more effective than capsules, but they may provide slightly faster relief.

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