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"Do cough drops work?"

ZocdocAnswersDo cough drops work?


When my young son gets sick, I like to send him off to school with cough drops ? but my husband says they're basically candy, and that they don't help you heal at all. Is he right? Or is there some science behind cough drops?


Cold symptoms are unfortunately very common and there are a whole host of remedies for cold symptoms, including over the counter medicines, cough drops, and various home remedies, and a lot of discussion between parents and caregivers about what are the best remedies. With respect to cough drops, both you and your husband are right! First, lots of cough drops do consist mostly of sugar and can be considered 'candy.' At the same time, some 'medicated' cough drops (such as mentholated drops) do have some effect. The 'menthol' compounds are basically local anesthetic agents which can temporarily 'numb' the nerves in the throat that are irritated by the cold symptoms and provide some relief. Importantly, especially if you steer away from 'sugared' cough drops towards medicated, sugar-free drops you are probably avoiding some other medications which might be potentially harmful. Most over the counter cold and cough medications should be completely avoided in younger children as they have many side effects and few benefits. Therefore, cough drops might be a safer and simpler alternative for your son. As always managing any childhood illness sometimes can require a visit to your pediatrician. If your son is very ill or has symptoms you cannot manage, your pediatrician can help.

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