Throat Lozenges: What You Need to Know About the Popular Sore Throat Remedy
Unless you’re a superhero, most chances are, you had a sore throat before. Sore throats can come from allergies, viral infections such as cold of the flu or a bacterial infection like strep throat. Most sore throats often clear up in a few days, even with no treatment at all. But as you feel like a thousand tiny knives scratch you every time you swallow, the only thing you can possibly think about is a solution that provides fast relief, like lozenges.
Lozenge tablets are intended to dissolve in the mouth, containing one or more types of medicine in a flavoured and sweetened/sugar-free base. They are meant to treat local irritation or infection of your throat and mouth. While increasing saliva production to reduce dryness, lozenges are also coating the throat to ease the cough reflux. You can get throat lozenges over-the-counter from an online pharmacy or a local one. They generally fall into two categories: synthetic pharmaceutical and naturally derived.
What’s in Pharmaceutical Lozenges?
Some lozenges contain painkillers benzydamine hydrochloride and flurbiprofen known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). As a result, they help reduce swelling and provide a relief from sore throat pain, especially during swallowing.
– Antibacterial Agents
Amylmetacresol, cetylpyridinium chloride, dichlorobenzyl alcohol and hexylresorcinol are antibacterial agents that help kill some of the bacteria that cause a sore throat. But if the sore throat is caused by a virus infection and not bacterial, lozenges containing these agents won’t cure the symptoms.
Anaesthetics are used to provide temporary relief from soreness, by numbing the local area. Widely used in medical and dental practice, benzocaine and lignocaine hydrochloride are anaesthetics that can be found among lozenges ingredients.
– Antitussives (Cough Suppressants)
Antitussives are meant to suppress dry, unproductive coughs, which further develop your throat soreness. A number of good-quality studies have shown that these factors (mostly dextromethorphan) in most cases only have a placebo effect, with no other medical benefits.
Some of the above medicines are not suitable for certain categories (pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under the age of 4). You need to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any of these medicines and make sure they are right for you. If your symptoms are mild, you may avoid medicated throat lozenges, and go for lozenges with natural ingredients.
Natural Ingredients Found in Lozenges
Menthol is a component of peppermint oil known for its therapeutic benefits. It has the ability to cause chemical reactions in cold-sensitive skin receptors, leading to a cooling and soothing sensation while you inhale or eat it. This cooling sensation helps to reduce pain.
Naturally sourced from eucalyptus leaves, this oil has a centuries-old practice of use as a nasal decongestant in relieving symptoms of colds and to freshen up breath. Research has shown that all eucalyptus essential oils have antibacterial properties to some degree. The most antibacterial activity has oil from the eucalyptus fruit.
Echinacea boosts the immune system and mitigates cold symptoms by increasing the number of white blood cells that help us fight infections. You can find it in pharmacies in numerous forms – extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules and ointments – all for a good reason. Depending on the extraction method, types and plant parts used in the preparation of sore throat lozenges, some are shown to have a positive effect in relieving cold symptoms.
– Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a fundamental part of the treatment of colds, the flu and other infections that can lead to a sore throat. As a result, many lozenges for throat pain also come with a boost of vitamin C. The more effective ones are tablets that contain from 10mg to 100 mg of vitamin C, as the recommended daily dose is 200 mg. According to experts, you should consume Vitamin C every day and not only at the start of cold symptoms.
Pectin is a component used to thicken foods, such as jam and jelly. When present in lozenges, it coats the throat creating a soothing effect, similar to of honey when swallowed.
Other Self-Care Remedies
To ease a dry, sore throat and reduce the tickling sensation caused by dry coughing, throat lozenges can often be enough. However, to further alleviate your discomfort, you may want to try out some home remedies, like for instance:
- Drinking warm beverages, like tea, or warm water with honey and lemon;
- Gargling with warm water and salt – Just rinse your mouth multiple times a day with warm water where you’ve dissolved a half teaspoon of salt, or try salt and baking soda mixture (1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt mixed in 1-quart water) to help your throat feel better and prevent future infections.
- Sucking on ice cubes, eating soft cold foods or frozen foods to ease the throat pain. A few scoops of ice cream are recommended as well;
- Using a humidifier to moisture the air which may soothe a swollen nose and throat,
- Rest your voice;
- Get good-quality sleep, silent meditation and frequent naps. Rest is fundamental to feel better faster. As your body knows the best way to heal itself, by relaxing you can let it do its hard work.