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Active Ingredients in Vicks Cough Drops

author image Kristine Mills
Kristine Mills began her freelance writing career in 2010 in order to promote health and wellness. She is a licensed registered nurse, receiving her degree from North Georgia College and State University in 1999. In addition to her nursing degree she also holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in organizational psychology and development.
Active Ingredients in Vicks Cough Drops
A young girl about to eat a cough drop. Photo Credit: pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

Vicks cough drops sold under the brand name Vicks VapoDrops are available in menthol and cherry flavors. According to the manufacturer they are indicated for cough suppression and relief of sore throat. Menthol is the active ingredient found in the drops. Vicks VapoDrops are available without a prescription at local retailers.

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Active Ingredient

Menthol is a naturally occurring compound found in mint leaves. It interacts with cold receptors to provide a cooling sensation. This sensation soothes and lubricates the throat and calms coughing. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, menthol also acts as an expectorant and thins mucus to break up coughs with phlegm.

Cherry Flavor

The cherry flavored drops contain 1.7mg of menthol per drop. The manufacturer lists ascorbic acid, citric acid, corn syrup, eucalyptus oil, FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Red No. 40, flavor and sucrose as inactive ingredients. Three drops are allowed to dissolve in the mouth as much as every hour for cough or every two hours for sore throat.

Menthol Flavor

The menthol flavored drops are stronger than the cherry flavor. They contain 3.3mg of menthol per drop. The stronger menthol drops are limited to two every hour for cough or every two hours for sore throat. Ascorbic acid, caramel, corn syrup, eucalyptus oil and sucrose are listed as the inactive ingredients in the menthol variety.

Menthol Overdose

It is possible to ingest too much menthol. Symptoms to watch for include blood in the urine, no urine output, rapid breathing, shallow breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, convulsions, dizziness, tremor, loss of consciousness and unsteady walking. If an overdose is suspected, medical attention should be sought immediately.


The drops should not be used for children under 2. A physician should be consulted regarding the use of the drops in children ages 2 to 5. Vick’s cautions consumers to ask a doctor before use if the cough produces excessive phlegm, if the cough is associated with a chronic condition such as asthma, emphysema or smoking, if a severe throat is accompanied by difficulty breathing or lasts more than two days, or if the sore throat is associated with a fever, headache, rash, swelling, nausea or vomiting.

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