By: Lauren Young
Itchiness and dryness that can’t be soothed are some of the most bothersome features of a sore throat. People who want to alleviate this feeling usually take medicated tablets commonly known as cough drops. Cough drops can provide instant, temporary relief for cough and sore throat symptoms. Some of the most popular brands are Halls, Ricola, and Chloraseptic.
For the past few years, there has been much debate about whether cough drops are actually effective. If you look at the ingredients in a Hall’s cough drop, it usually contains glucose syrup and sucrose with food coloring ingredients. Depending on the flavor and type of Halls, the amount of menthol ingredient also varies; with Halls intense cool containing the most menthol (15mg) and Halls tropical fruit, wild cherry, sunshine citrus, and honey-lemon chamomile having the least amount (2.5mg) .
Menthol is the primary component that can “temporarily numb the nerves in the throat that are irritated by the cold symptoms and provide some relief” . The saliva stimulated from sucking the cough drop and the menthol ingredient in the drop are used to coat the throat lining, thus relieving the dry and itchy symptoms the consumer experiences. The cooling sensation associated with menthol triggers the cold-sensitive receptors in the throat . Other flavors such as eucalyptus oil helps release mucus from the chest and even relieves some cold symptoms.
In the case of a more serious cough, such as those associated with bacterial infections, stronger anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory lozenges are needed. These contain active ingredients such as dichlorobenzyl alcohol, which prevents bacteria from returning and growing in the mouth and throat.
For a more common cough drop such as Halls, the recommended dosage is no more than one to two drops every two hours. In addition, the side effects can include rapid breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. There seems to be no direct harm in consuming cough drops, aside from the concern that it is more like a candy rather than a medication. If an accessible and fairly priced remedy is needed, cough drops more than fulfills these criteria as it sells for around two dollars for a pack of 30 at many local drugstores.
If cough drops are not sufficient enough, then there are always other alternatives to soothing a cough with at home remedies. Some general suggestions are drinking warm water with honey and lemon, consuming bromelain which is found in pineapples to help loosen mucus, inhaling peppermint scents in a hot bath, or even gargling with salt and water .