Every winter, you and your family pick up a variety of bugs that keep you coughing all over each other. When it’s too soon to take your next dose of cough control medicine, you reach for a bag of cough drops and throat lozenges. However, you’re not sure whether these remedies actually work or you’re just experiencing a placebo effect. Here’s what you need to know about cough drops’ efficacy and what they mean for your health.
Cough Drops Soothe Your Throat
Research is still being conducted into whether cough drops can cure coughs, but there is no doubt that they help relieve the symptoms of colds and the flu. If a cough drop contains menthol, it induces a numbing effect, which helps your irritated throat recover from all your coughing. Even cough drops without menthol can lubricate your throat’s inflamed passages, making it easier to breathe deeply without coughing again.
Cough drops’ other soothing effects are some of the reasons why people think of them as placebos. The act of sucking on a cough drop helps your body produce more saliva, which addresses the symptoms of dry coughs. Also, if the cough drop tastes good enough, it provides a distraction, allowing you to focus on something besides your discomfort.
Cough Drops Work With Many Illnesses
There are many different types of coughs, but they can all be treated with throat lozenges. If you experience violent periods of coughing that are unpredictable and uncontrollable, you have a paroxysmal cough. If your kids under the age of five are having trouble breathing and have loud, harsh coughs, they have croup. Less severe coughs include dry coughs, which occur when your throat feels scratchy, and wet coughs, which occur when you have too much mucus in your throat.
Some of these conditions, especially paroxysmal coughs and croup, require serious medical intervention. However, all of them can be eased to some extent with cough drops. If you need a little relief on your way to the pharmacy or doctor’s, a cough drop should ease your wet or dry cough. Just make sure that you don’t choke on a lozenge if you’re having coughing fits.
Cough Drops Are a Temporary Solution
While cough drops help you feel better momentarily, they’re not long-term solutions to the question, “Why am I coughing a lot?” If you have a chronic cough, meaning one that’s been going on for over two months, or one that causes wheezing or extreme fatigue, it’s time to see a doctor. Doctors can swab your throat to check for illnesses such as strep throat, which requires amoxicillin or penicillin treatments. They also have stethoscopes and ultrasound machines that allow them to assess your lungs’ condition.
Sometimes, coughs are nothing to worry about, simply the result of allergies or a mild cold. Severe coughs can be signs of throat and lung cancer as well as other diseases, though:
- Heart disease
- Obstructed airways
- Lung infections
Because cough drops soothe your throat but don’t address your cough’s causes, take one and then schedule a doctor’s appointment.