What Throat Lozenges Really Do To Your Body

We often reach for throat lozenges when we have a sore throat or irritating cough. Commonly referred to as cough drops, these products come in a variety of flavors and boast various health benefits. But how exactly do they affect your body? Here's what you should know.

At the most basic level, throat lozenges work by increasing saliva in your mouth. This helps increase moisture in your throat which can provide some pain relief for soreness and irritation (via Healthline). However, this effect is temporary and will only last as long as the throat lozenge is in your mouth. The soreness and coughing will probably come back as soon as the lozenge dissolves.

Some throat lozenges are medicated with menthol, which has a mild anesthetic effect and can provide more relief than a plain cough drop. Menthol can be toxic in large quantities, but someone would have to consume hundreds of menthol cough drops at once to experience this effect (via Medical News Today). Some people are allergic to menthol and may experience a reaction when taking a menthol cough drop.

There are many better alternatives to throat lozenges

While throat lozenges aren't the worst thing to take for a sore throat or cold, there are other ways to treat your symptoms. Cough drops usually contain a lot of sugar to make them taste better and are often comparable to eating candy. A few lozenges a day won't hurt, but it's good to try other methods instead of popping cough drops all day long.

Drinking liquids will provide the same effect as unmedicated lozenges (via Cleveland Clinic). Throughout the day, sip on water, tea, and broth to stay hydrated and find relief. Staying hydrated can also help prevent sinus infections, which is another good reason to drink up when you're sick. Gargling salt water is another tried-and-true method that can ease irritation in the throat. Dissolve about ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and gargle it for a few seconds before spitting it out. Repeat the process every three hours. Salt water can reduce swelling in the throat and soothe any irritation. You can also sub in baking soda to break up mucus.

Visit your doctor if your sore throat becomes increasingly painful, makes it difficult to swallow, or lasts for more than a few days. Those symptoms may be a sign of a more serious health condition.