We’ve all had one - a tickly throat, reducing us to coughing fits (most likely in a cinema). This can develop into a sore throat, which can be troublesome, irritating or painful to say the least. Being flooded with adverts for miracle throat lozenges, it's no wonder we feel that these are a no-brainer in solving the issue. In this blog post, we will be discussing whether throat lozenges are the sweet answer to our sore throat or just a cavity-inducing pastille?
Sore throats - what's the cause?
- The main cause of a sore throat is viral (cold or flu), therefore won't respond to antibiotics.
- Bacteria can also cause sore throats; this infection is referred to as strep throat, which is best treated with antibiotics.
- Hay fever and other allergies may cause a post-nasal drip, which can irritate the throat, especially at night.
- Irritants such as smoke or a polluted environment.
- Laryngitis is inflammation of the voice box or tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils.
Throat lozenges - how do they work?
Throat lozenges are medicated tablets that you can buy over-the-counter. These tablets are to be dissolved in the mouth slowly to lubricate the throat linings and suppress irritation. Sucking a lozenge dissolves the ingredients present in them, stimulating the salivary gland to produce saliva. However, different ingredients in a lozenge may have a different effect on the throat. Below are different ingredients you can find in throat lozenges:
- Antibacterial lozenges – these help fight against infection caused by bacteria, however, most sore throats are caused by a viral infection so antibacterial throat lozenges will not help for the most part.
- Menthol: Is a synthetic ingredient that can aid nasal and chest congestion and offers instant relief. Also, it offers a cooling sensation by triggering cold-sensitive receptors in the throat.
- Eucalyptus oil: It is obtained from the leaves of Eucalyptus and is widely used as a natural remedy for treating cough and cold. Like menthol, it acts as a decongestant and also relieves cold symptoms.
- Pain killers: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) such as benzydamine hydrochloride or flurbiprofen help reduce swelling and pain. These types of medicated lozenges will be effective if you’re seeking temporary and instant relief from a sore throat.
- Anesthetics: Local anesthetics such as benzocaine are used for numbing the area they are in contact with.
- Antitussives (cough suppressant): Dextromethorphan hydrochloride and pholcodine are used in throat lozenges to help suppress a dry (unproductive) cough, which may the cause of a sore throat in some cases.
For children under the age of 6, it is unsafe for them to take throat lozenges. Whilst throat lozenges can prove to be useful, you must ensure that the ingredients in them do not interfere with your current medication if you are taking any. If you are diabetic, then you your lozenges should always be sugar free.
If your sore throat is lingering and not showing any signs of improvement, a visit to your GP may be exactly what you need. If it is found that you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the infection. If you're looking for a gp near me, London Doctors Clinic is here to help.
By Dipali Khurana