Three weeks into my life at Penn State University and I have already contracted the sickness. I bet it’s because of the high density of people on campus and lack of sleep I’ve been getting. So far my only symptoms are loss of voice, a stuffy nose, and a mild cough. Early this morning I went out and bought cough drops. Most people steer away from the sugar-based cough drops, like Luden’s, because they believe the better it tastes, the less effective it is. I like the sugary cough drops. They taste good and I can eat them with ease.
As I was sitting at my computer popping cough drops like M&M’s, I wondered, how do cough drops work? Luden’s cough drops are also known as “pectin lozenges.” Johnathon Andrew, a journalist who received his medical degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, said that pectin could be found in many fruits and vegetables. Although Andrew made some very good points as to how pectin could benefit one’s health, he said nothing about how pectin could alleviate a sore throat and cough. Below is the representation of a pectin molecule.
So, I had to dive deeper into the Internet. According to The Daily Meal, pectin soothes the throat by coating it, thus reducing the inflammation. Luden’s also offers different flavors, which have different ingredients, thus working differently. Their honey flavor works exactly like their pectin-based flavor, because they are both sucrose-based.
They also offer a menthol cough drop. Apparently, menthol cough drops work the best. To sum it up, menthol cough drops work effectively because they numb the throat (Zocdoc par. 2). One study conducted by the Monell Chemical Senses Center showed that the menthol found in cough drops had the same relieving effect as a menthol cigarette. After reading this I was curious to find out if there could be harmful sides effects from taking in menthol. Sure enough, the first searches on Google after typing “menthol cough drops” show concern about the side effects of taking menthol medicated cough drops regularly and while pregnant. The University of Maryland Medical Center lists of a bunch of potential side effects and warning for when using menthol lozenges. Although there is no certainty that any of the side effects would happen, I would just stay away from menthol lozenges. The Monell Center study shows that both sucrose and menthol based medications work, with only a 20% difference in cough outset. So both types work, with very little variation (Monell 2).
In conclusion, I have found that there are two types of cough drops, sucrose and menthol. Both types have been proven to work. Sucrose (pectin-based) cough drops coat the throat in order to relive the pain, where as menthol cough drops use anesthetic agents to relieve the throat of its pain. Cough drops do work, and although they might not actually heal the illness, they definitely relieve some of the symptoms.