Do Throat Lozenges Really Work?

Sure, they taste good, but do they actually soothe a sore throat or quiet a cough? Read on.

Whether it’s flu season or you’re fighting off an icky cold, throat lozenges are one of the go-to items you may find yourself reaching for at the pharmacy. There are plenty of different flavors and brands to choose from, so it’s important to be strategic about choosing the right throat lozenges to relieve your throat symptoms. We checked in with Orlando, Florida-based health expert and surgeon Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, to find out which ingredients to look for and which to avoid. Plus, he let us in on a few at-home remedies.

While your sore throat or cough will likely heal on its own over time, Dr. Brahmbhatt says, there are remedies to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by bacterial or viral infections. “Lozenges work by increasing saliva production to help keep the throat moist,” he says. They also may have ingredients that suppress cough, ease pain, and fight viruses. So, while they won’t cure a sore throat, lozenges can definitely soothe some pretty pesky sore throat symptoms.


Which throat lozenges
work best?

It’s important not to reach for just any throat lozenges. “Opt for sugar-free lozenges,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “Cough drops contain about 15 calories each and those calories can add up fast,” he says. His pick is sugar-free menthol-based drops. Keep in mind that the sugar substitutes in these drops may cause stomach issues for some people.

At-home remedies for a sore throat or cough

What if you don’t want to depend on throat lozenges for a cough? You can find a lot of natural cough remedies out there. Dr. Brahmbhatt shares some legit at-home sore throat remedies (and if those don’t cut it, here are more DIY fixes worth a try):

  • Stay hydrated. The more water and fluids you take in, the higher chance you have that your throat will stay moist.
  • Chew on cloves and gargle with salt water: You’ll feel a huge relief.
  • Try turmeric. Gargle with turmeric to reduce inflammation in the throat. It’s also a great ingredient to tackle various GI issues.

Throat lozenges can be effective when it comes to relieving your symptoms, and if you reach for a menthol-based brand, you’re in good shape. As annoying as a sore throat can be, it’s important to remember that the discomfort is temporary. Something as simple as staying hydrated and getting rest will help your body fight off the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You’ll feel better again soon.

Sources
Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on October 22, 2019