Deni has approximately 25 years experience in the healthcare industry, both clinical and administrative.
If you go to a drug store or pharmacy, you will find a wide selection of throat lozenges that all claim to relieve a sore throat. Throat lozenges come in an abundance of flavors, and sometimes they even contain a fruity treat in the middle. Some claim to be “maximum strength," whereas others claim to be “triple action” or “long-lasting.” Is there really a difference between them? Yes.
What Ingredients Are In A Throat Lozenge?
Not every throat lozenge contains the same active ingredients. Some types of throat lozenges contain only one ingredient, while others may contain a combination of ingredients. Also, most lozenges, even though the same brand, contain different amounts of medications. The different types of ingredients in throat lozenges are:
menthol: An oral anesthetic/analgesic also called an oral demulcent. It provides the minty-cool vapor that soothes a sore throat. Most throat lozenges that contain menthol have anywhere from 2 mg-10 mg of menthol.
pectin: An oral anesthetic/analgesic, or demulcent, without the minty vapor. It provides a soothing feeling by coating the back of the throat. Throat lozenges with pectin usually contain 5 mg-7 mg.
benzocaine: An oral anesthetic/analgesic that numbs pain. It is an active ingredient in a wide variety of other over-the-counter medications like Blistex and eardrops. Throat lozenges containing benzocaine usually have anywhere from 6 mg-15 mg.
dextromethorphan hydrobromide: A cough suppressant. Most throat lozenges containing this ingredient will have 5 mg.
Does Flavor Matter? Yes!
You may find that the next time you shop for throat lozenges your preferred flavor has the smallest amount of medication. For example, Chloraseptic sore throat lozenges are available in four different flavors (cherry, citrus, honey-lemon, and green tea). Each flavor contains menthol 10mg; however, honey-lemon contains 7.5 mg of benzocaine, while the others contain only 6mg.
Maximum strength Chloraseptic, only available in one flavor, contains 15 mg of benzocaine and 10 mg of menthol.
Another popular brand of throat lozenges is Halls. Halls Plus is available in five different flavors: cherry, honey-lemon and mentho-lyptus contain 7.5 mg of menthol; icy-lemon and icy-strawberry only contain 2.7 mg of menthol.
Halls Triple Soothing Action is available in five different flavors, but the amount of menthol in each ranges from 3.1 mg-10 mg.
Which Type of Lozenge Should You Purchase?
You will have to base your purchase on your symptoms. Do you have a cough and a sore throat? Do you have a minor throat irritation? Is your sore throat so severe that you are having difficulty swallowing?
If you have only a minor sore throat or irritation, you should choose a lozenge with a low dosage of menthol. Halls Naturals contain only 2.5mg of menthol. Halls Breezers contain pectin (the same relief without the vapor) 7mg.
If you have a cough in conjunction with a sore throat, you will want to find a lozenge that contains dextromethorphan, along with your preferred choice of analgesic, pectin or menthol (both soothe). You may opt to find a lozenge that will also include benzocaine (numbs).
When purchasing a throat lozenge, you should review the active ingredients on the product label—not the package front—to ensure that your ailment will be treated with the proper amount of medication and, additionally, to your preference (menthol or pectin).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
WJS on January 15, 2012:
I knew about differing menthol contents, but didn't know about pectin or benzocaine. Thank you for great info!
Jenifer L (author) from california on December 19, 2010:
It is some interesting information, isn't it? Thanks for reading, acaetnna.
acaetnna from Guildford on December 18, 2010:
I didn't realise this at all. I found this hub really interesting. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Voted up most definitely.
Jenifer L (author) from california on August 17, 2010:
Thanks for visiting, Martie! I noticed this years ago when I bought the same type of lozenges but different flavors, and I wondered why one worked better than the other.
Martie Coetser from South Africa on August 17, 2010:
Can you believe it - I did not know this! Thought it was all the same. Will have to bookmark this to make sure I buy the right one next time. Thanks!