Cough Drops


Cough Drops: Quick Relief!

When you have a cough, it’s a good idea to keep a lozenge or cough drop handy, which do actually provide fast and effective relief for many types of cough.

Cough drops only provide temporary relief, but most of the time that’s exactly what you need…quick, temporary relief from an immediate coughing bout.  Plus, cough drops can be used in conjunction with other cough remedies you may be using.

When you’ve got a cough and cold or a dry cough, you want a cough drop . . . you need a cough drop. But, what kind?  Over the counter cough drops with benzocaine, menthol, or pectin? Natural herbal cough drops?

Here are a few tips from an episode of The Doctors TV show where the discussion included pointers from the doctors on how to choose the right lozenges for your cough.

Another option is to make your own cough drops. Homemade cough drops can be made without the unwanted additives such as fructose, food dyes, and other unhealthy ingredients found in OTC cough drops. Refer to the section below on homemade cough drops for more information.

Over the Counter (OTC) Cough Drops

OTC cough drops typically contain one or both of the following active ingredients: menthol and/or eucalyptus oil, both of which are cough suppressants.  Some lozenges contain benzocaine, a topical pain reliever that causes a slight numbing sensation that helps provide relief when a cough is accompanied by a sore throat.

Cough drops can be purchased in stores everywhere and there are numerous, good quality, reputable brands available.  Our top three favorite store bought cough drop brands are listed below:

  • Halls Cough Drops
  • Ricola Cough Drops
  • Thayers Cough Drops

OTC cough drops do typically contain food dyes and artificial sweeteners so be sure to read the product label. You can, however, make your own homemade cough drops,  and avoid these artificial ingredients altogether.  The following section on this page provides information on homemade cough lozenges.

Natural and herbal lozenge packages can also be found in stores for purchase.  Some of these natural types of cough drops use pectin, which is a good option because the carbohydrate comes from fruit coating the throat, making this a safer choice for children as well as a good choice of cough drops during pregnancy.



Homemade Cough Drops

Cough drops can be made at home easily and inexpensively.  Cough drops are one of the best quick fixes for a cough and if you want to have the benefit of a soothing cough drop but don’t want the unnatural ingredients like FD&C blue2, FD&C red 40, artificial flavors, glucose syrup, high fructose syrup, etc., then homemade cough drops are the answer!

In the videos shown below are two different methods of making your own homemade cough drops.

This video demonstrates how to make homemade herbal based lozenges to soothe a dry cough and also serve as an expectorant.

In the following video a master medical herbalist and author uses a different method of how to make homemade herbal cough drops.



Cough Drop Alternatives

Cough Drop Tea
Sometimes a cough drop can be a little strong when you’re not feeling well.  One very simple and creative cough suppressant remedy is to brew your favorite cup of tea and simply drop in your favorite cough drop and stir it around in the hot tea.

The cough drop will partially dissolve into the tea adding a gentle flavor of the cough drop while at the same time soothing your cough.

If the cough drop you’re using contains menthol then you can also enjoy the aroma from the menthol as you drink your tea which provides you with a mini aromatherapy treatment as well.

Periodically stir the cup of tea to dissolve more of the cough drop into the tea.  When you’re about halfway through your cup of tea it’s a good idea to remove whatever is left of the undissolved cough drop to prevent a choking hazard.

Great option to avoid choking hazard: This cough drop tea is a great solution for individuals who have difficulty with safely sucking on cough drops and hard candy and are a choking hazard, such as young children and even some late-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. In this instance, it’s important that after you stir the tea and cough drop thoroughly that you make certain you have removed the cough drop from the cup before giving the tea to the child or individual to drink to prevent a choking hazard.


Cough Drop Relief Without The Cough Drop

Saline Gargle Solution
The doctor may suggest you gargle with a saline gargle solution, which is the same thing Grandma told you to do when she said to gargle with warm salt water.

Because salt naturally draws out moisture, gargling with salt water helps get rid of your cough by doing the following:

  • Dries up bacteria and prevents it from growing
  • Loosens mucous
  • Flushes away post nasal drip
  • Washes away dead white blood cells promoting healthy new tissue
  • The warmth of the solution fights infection by increasing blood flow to the area

Salt Water Solution Recipe
To make your own salt water solution simply mix approximately 1/4 teaspoon salt with 1 cup of water.  There’s no hard and fast rule as to exactly how much salt is used in the mixture, but while the water should taste salty, too much salt can dry out the membranes in your throat causing further irritation and inflammation.

Gargle with the saline salt water solution every four to eight hours, by gargling a few times in a row, for about 10 to 15 seconds with each gargle.

You can also add other ingredients to this salt water solution; for example, squeeze in a little lemon juice into the mixture which will also help fight against bacteria and viruses. Cider vinegar, ginger tonic or syrup, and peppermint oil are a few other optional ingredients you may want to try adding to this gargle solution.


Resource Links – Cough Drop Information

University of Massachusetts Medical School: Report on Cough Drop Interaction with Warfarin

8 Responses to “Cough Drops”

  1. Ida says:

    I just wanted to tell you how great the Cough Drop Tea worked. My elderly dad has Alzheimer’s and if we gave him a cough drop he would get confused and try to swallow it like a pill. So now he’s able to safely get the benefit of a cough drop. Such a simple suggestion with such a great benefit! Thank you!

  2. Brianne C. says:

    Yes, I tried the cough drop tea too. I made it for my 6 year old. She just can’t seem to get the hang of hard candy or cough drops yet. My older kids didn’t ever have any trouble at this age but she got a hard candy stuck in her throat a while back so now I’m really nervous about it and I don’t let her have any hard candies anymore. Anyway, the cough drop in the tea worked great for her!

    • Lee says:

      While many parents feel it’s safe to give their kids hard candies at that age it’s not unusual to hear stories of 6 and 7 year olds accidentally choking on hard candy. Better safe than sorry — I agree with you it’s best to hold off on giving a cough drop or hard candy until your child is a little older. I’m happy to hear the tea worked for her.

  3. Ashley W. says:

    I’m pregnant and I have a terrible cough and sore throat but I didn’t want to take any medication. I had heard about gargling with salt water but never knew how to actually do it and how much salt to add. I used your recipe for salt water solution and I simply can’t believe how much relief it gave me. It made me feel so much better and it’s safe and I can use it as often as I need to.

  4. Jeff says:

    I still have an occasional coughing spell that sometimes happens when I least expect it, and usually when I’m at the store or in a public place. I keep a cough drop with me to use when this happens but is there some way to help this cough go away?

    • Lee says:

      Keeping a cough drop on the ready is about the best thing you can do at this stage. Unfortunately it’s sort of the name of the game with some types of cough. Eventually it will run its course and go away, but until then keep that cough drop on hand, stay hydrated, get plenty of vitamin C, and eat nutritious meals. One other possible suggestion would be to use a vaporizer or humidifier at home to help keep your airway passages from being too dried out.

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