Smart Shopping for Cough Drops

From Halls to Ricola and countless others, the variety of cough drops that line the cold care section of pharmacy shelves seems to grow with each passing flu season. Cough drops, also referred to as a lozenge, are small medicated drops that help alleviate dry or irritated throats. They are usually taken during a cold or flu infection to moisten the tissues of the throat, which have become inflamed due to illness or a cough.

When you have a cough, choosing cough drops can be a challenge with all of the options available. (Image: deeepblue/iStock/Getty Images)

Cough drops come in two varieties: mentholated or non-mentholated. Menthol is an oral anesthetic that comes in the form of eucalyptus oil, menthol or benzocaine. It works to temporarily reduce the sensation of pain experienced in the throat and suppress cough.

The vapors of the mentholated cough drops also cool the nasal passages bringing temporary relief to clogged mucus membranes.

Non-mentholated cough drops use oral demulcents as their active ingredient. Demulcents usually in the form of pectin, glycerin or honey coat the throat and reduce inflammation.

They are made in a similar fashion as hard candies with the active ingredients added as the drop is cooked and then hardened. Some cough drops contain added ingredients to help keep breath smelling fresh and to fight colds. Cough drops also come in sugar-free varieties.

What to Look For

From Halls to Ricola and countless others, the variety of cough drops that line the cold care section of pharmacy shelves seems to grow with each passing flu season. Cough drops, also referred to as a lozenge, are small medicated drops that help alleviate dry or irritated throats. They are usually taken during a cold or flu infection to moisten the tissues of the throat, which have become inflamed due to illness or a cough.

Cough drops come in two varieties: mentholated or non-mentholated. Menthol is an oral anesthetic that comes in the form of eucalyptus oil, menthol or benzocaine. It works to temporarily reduce the sensation of pain experienced in the throat and suppress cough.

The vapors of the mentholated cough drops also cool the nasal passages bringing temporary relief to clogged mucus membranes.

Non-mentholated cough drops use oral demulcents as their active ingredient. Demulcents usually in the form of pectin, glycerin or honey coat the throat and reduce inflammation.

They are made in a similar fashion as hard candies with the active ingredients added as the drop is cooked and then hardened. Some cough drops contain added ingredients to help keep breath smelling fresh and to fight colds. Cough drops also come in sugar-free varieties.

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