What Happens If You Eat Too Many Cough Drops?

April 8, 2018

Jelly Bell

What Happens If You Eat Too Many Cough Drops?

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Everyone has once suffered coughing in life. Cough is a conditional reflex that occurs suddenly and often over and over. It is effective in eliminating secretions, inflammatory substances, particles in the external environment, and bacteria..

And, while some people suffer from it, the others seek treatment. Thus, cough drops appear as one of the most effective remedies. The outstanding advantage of cough drops is that cough drops might treat the symptoms quickly and are said to be safe.

But the question is what happens if you eat too many cough drops?

Luckily, this article provides an overview and discussion to handle your issue.

What are cough drops?

A cough drop is a small pill intended to be dissolved slowly in the mouth used for stopping coughs and lubricating and propitiating irritated tissues of the throat, possibly from the common cold or influenza. Beside treating a cough, cough drops could be used to cure a sore throat, see it at DO COUGH DROPS HELP A SORE THROAT. First developed during the eighteenth century and now, cough drops have become more widely popular as a result of the good taste associated with them.

A cough drop is a small pill intended to be dissolved slowly in the mouth used for stopping coughs
A cough drop is a small pill intended to be dissolved slowly in the mouth used for stopping coughs

How do cough drops work?

Corn syrup is the main component of cough drops. It consists of polysaccharides, dextrose, and maltose used to control the crystallization of sugar. It also provides some sweetness and typically energy for the body to recover.

They are two kinds of active components in a cough drop consisting of expectorants and cough suppressants. The function of expectorants is to remove phlegm from the respiratory tract by blocking the sensory nerves so that a cough can be stopped. Antitussives, which are cough suppressants, work in different ways. In detail, cough drops can contain the following active ingredients individually and even in combinations:

  • Benzocaine: which is a topical anesthetic
  • Dextromethorphan: this is a potent pain reliever
  • Pectin
  • Menthol: which is typically isolated from the Mentha arvensis plant or distilled from peppermint oil and has a cooling effect in the mouth that helps to relieve irritation
  • Zinc gluconate glycine: which may be useful in fighting symptoms of a cold
  • Eucalyptus oil: which has a medicinal effect functioning as an expectorant

Many flavoring ingredients are put into cough drop recipes in order to cover the taste of the active ingredients. For more information, you can visit HOW DO COUGH DROPS WORK?

Are cough drops actually effective?

The Monell Chemical Senses Center claims menthol, which is a common ingredient in cough drops do help reducing cough. However, the new guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) suggest that there is little medical evidence supporting the advantage of cough drops.

Cough drops certainly aren’t the best option to relieve the pain, there are better medications. Since there are too many kinds of cough drops, take a look at BEST COUGH DROPS for your own answer.

What happens if you eat too many cough drops?

Eating too many cough drops could lead to shallow or rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid heartbeat or dizziness. The major active component in most medicated cough drops is menthol and dextromethorphan, which are the ingredients that would be responsible for what happens if you eat too many cough drops.

Menthol overdose

The most common ingredient in a cough drop is menthol. This is an organic compound made from eucalyptus, peppermint, and other mint oils. Menthol can be harmful in large amounts.

Several adverse effects of peppermint oil have been reported including cheilitis, bradycardia, abdominal pain, nausea, dermatitis, and tremor.  An overdose of peppermint oil was also reported where the patient presented with renal, and respiratory failure. Renal dysfunction is probably the result of interstitial nephritis.

A high dose of menthol ingestion was also reported to have caused dizziness, ataxia, convulsion, agitation, and coma [1].

There is only one case of death from menthol poisoning that has ever been reported in the medical literature. A twenty-one-year-old farmer living in a village of Uttar Pradesh, India, overdosed by inhalation of menthol while he was cleaning a peppermint factory. Unfortunately, he expired after 10 days in the hospital [4].

What are the symptoms of menthol overdose?

If you manage to eat a very large amount of cough drops, below are symptoms of menthol poisoning in different parts of the body that you might experience:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the urine
  • No urine outputs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Convulsions
  • Tremor
  • Unsteady walking

These symptoms could be what happens if you eat too many cough drops that contain menthol.

stomach pain is a symptom of menthol overdose
Stomach pain is a symptom of menthol overdose

An excessive amount of Menthol Cough Drops could make a cough worse

A survey of about 500 patients treated for coughs at five clinics, which is performed by the Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN), has claimed that too many menthol cough drops may actually make coughs worse [5].

According to Dr. David Hahn, who oversaw the study, people tend to develop a tolerance to menthol. However, because of the limit of evidence, most people may not recognize the side effects of over-the-counter cough drops

How should I use Menthol medicine?

Remember to read the label use exactly as directed on it, or as the prescription of your doctor. Try not to swallow the menthol cough drop whole. Menthol lozenge needs to be dissolved in your mouth without chewing. Remember do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Dextromethorphan overdose

Dextromethorphan is a medicine used to stop coughing. Unfortunately, it has been shown as a drug of abuse that can even cause a life-threatening overdose when a person takes more than the normal or recommended amount. The signs and symptoms of a dextromethorphan overdose can vary from person to person, but often compose of:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Agitation
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Coma.
  • Dizziness
  • Nervous behavior
  • Drowsiness

This is what happens when an excessive amount of Dextromethorphan, which is a common ingredient in cough drops, is taken. Although Dextromethorphan poisoning rarely appears, it should be concerned if you eat too many cough drops [2].

An underlying problem can be disguised by cough drops addiction

Cough drops will usually be advised not to use them for more than a week since overuse can cover some underlying problems.  A cough drop addiction may be a hazard psychological problem. Thus, it could lead to some underlying medical condition, either physical or mental. For example, some people subsidiary on cough drops in order to ease throat irritation and even conceal throat pain, which is a warning symptom that a medical professional should recognize.

Treatment for a cough drops overdose

Seek medical help right away. Once in the emergency room, the health care provider will monitor the person’s vital signs including pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.  How well someone does depend on how many coughs drops they ingested and how quickly they receive medical treatment so that early diagnosis and treatment of this poisoning is key to the success. The patient may receive:

  • Stomach pumping
  • Nasogastric tube placement in order to help prevent further absorption of the drug from the digestive tract.
  • Breathing support
  • Intravenous fluids.
  • Naloxone to reverse the effects of the drug, if necessary.
  • Benzodiazepine medications for preventing seizures.
  • Cooling measures to prevent hyperthermia.

Overdosing on cough drops can be – but usually isn’t – fatal. Most of the cases can – and often do – survive and recover. These are what happens if you eat too many cough drops. Thus, if you are afraid of these side effects and may be questioning CAN PREGNANT WOMEN TAKE COUGH DROPS or CAN KIDS HAVE COUGH DROPS, we are here to help you.

How many coughs drops you should have a day?

It depends on what a cough drops you are using. However, most of the labels indicate that you should take them once every 4 hours and no more than 12 in a 24-hour period to avoid what happens if you eat too many cough drops… If you take them for more than 7 days for a sore throat you should make an appointment with the doctor.

How to prevent cough drops overdose?

Always read the label and try not to exceed the recommended dose. If you’re worried about what happens if you eat too many cough drops, cough drops that don’t contain menthol should be looking for.

Keep cough drops out of the reach of children is necessary as children may think they are candy.

Natural remedies should be considered.

Keep in mind that cough drops are used only to relieve symptoms without eliminating the cause of the diseases.

Home remedies for cough drop replacement

If you are looking for some natural remedies for a cough, we are here for your answer. Please take a look at these at-home treatments that can help you feel more comfortable when you have a cough, especially protect you from what happens if you eat too many cough drops.


According to a study, honey was said to be even more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants.

Apple-cider vinegar and honey can be equally useful as cough remedies. You can either take it alone or with the lemon juice while honey will soothe your cough the lemon juice will cut through the mucous in the back of your throat. Young children, especially kids under 1-year-old, shouldn’t have honey.

honey is good for cough drop replacement
Honey is good for cough drop replacement


Mixing a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat and break down mucus. It also plays an important role in killing bacteria in the throat.


Garlic also has the natural antibacterial ability to fight off infections. Adding fresh garlic to your diet has been shown to help to prevent the common cold virus.

Taking a hot shower and use a humidifier

A hot shower can help coughs not only from colds but also from allergies by loosening secretions in the nose. Humidifiers may also be effective since the moisture can also ease your breathing. However, this remedy is not suitable for asthma patients.

Avoiding dirty air

The worst irritant in the air is properly smoke, especially when you are sick. Smokers need to stop smoking and staying away from others who are smoking is recommended.

Drinking lots of liquids

Drinking fluids not only helps to thin out the mucus in postnasal drip but also helps to keep mucous membranes moist. But remember to stay away from alcohol or caffeinated drinks.


As you sleep, your immune system also is strengthening. Therefore, rest is so significant in order to against the infection. Make sure you get enough sleep at night at least 8 hours per day. Overworking will just exhaust you and stress you out [3].


So now you have known what happens if you eat too many cough drops and some traditional methods to help a cough, which are not only effective but also safe for your health. A nasty cough is not dangerous but ignoring this symptom could lead you to a big problem.  Finding the suitable and correct way to cure it should be seriously considered.

In a nutshell, cough drops contain medications that inhibit the cough reflex but taking too many is never a good idea.

Hope you have learned some valuable information to improve the quality of your life.

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