Is It Safe to Use Cough Drops during Pregnancy?

Using Cough Drops During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

If you are not pregnant, you may not take your cough and cold too seriously. However, pregnancy changes the scenario completely. This is because what may seem to be a small health issue pre-pregnancy may require deliberate thought during pregnancy. So, if you are sceptical about popping some cough drops to soothe your throat, you should read the following article. We shall be discussing whether or not it is safe to use cough drops during pregnancy.

What Are Cough Drops?

Cough drops are small, candy-like medicines that provide temporary relief from the symptoms of a cough and cold. They are available as over-the-counter medicines and usually do not require a doctor’s prescription.

Why Do You Need Cough Drops?

Cough drops, also known as throat lozenges are very effective in providing relief from a cough. However, it is not only the cough that is taken care of; these sweet discs are also beneficial in providing relief from a runny nose, dry mouth, sore throat, and persistent cough. Cough drops also help reduce the duration of your cold.

Are Cough Drops Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

You may find these sweet flavoured medicated candies very palatable, but you may wonder whether they are safe to be used during pregnancy or not. Well, these sugary pills are usually considered safe as they are consumed only to provide temporary and short-term relief from the symptoms. It is very unlikely that these drops will harm your unborn child in any way. However, you should refrain from overconsumption, and read the labels for the active and inactive ingredients in order to avoid taking any harmful ingredients unknowingly.

Ingredients Used in Cough Drops

Cough drops can contain any of the following ingredients:

1. Active Ingredients

Some of the active ingredients that may be used are as follows:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Benzocaine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Pectin
  • Zinc gluconate glycine
  • Honey
  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint
  • Menthol

2. Inactive Ingredients

Some of the inactive ingredients in cough drops may include:

  • Wild thyme
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Hyssop
  • Horehound
  • Elder
  • Mallow
  • Linden flowers
  • Lemon balm

Cough drops, also called lozenges

Which Ingredients Are Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

So, which cough drops are safe during pregnancy? Well, here are some of our recommendations:

  • You can use cough drops that contain an expectorant known as guaifenesin.
  • You can safely take cough drops with dextromethorphan in them.
  • Cough drops with Cepacol and Chloraseptic are also safe to consume during pregnancy.
  • You can also take menthol cough drops while pregnant; however, there is no study available to prove the safety or danger of this ingredient during pregnancy.

Which Ingredients Are Unsafe for Pregnant Women?

While some ingredients may be safe during pregnancy, others may lead to complications.

  • Do not take cough drops with herbal ingredients because they are often not tested for safety.
  • Do not take cough drops that have alcohol in them. Always look for alcohol-free options.

Side-Effects and Risks of Taking Cough Drops During Pregnancy

With only limited access to allopathic medicines, it is natural to be tempted to pop a lozenge when you are pregnant and have a cold. Here are some side-effects to consider before doing so:

1. Suppression of Mucus

Mucus is required to get rid of germs from your body. However, sometimes, taking cough drops may suppress mucus formation and trap the germs inside the body, which may later resurface.

2. Too Much Sugar

Most cough drops have high sugar content, so if you are suffering from diabetes or gestational diabetes, consuming them may increase your blood sugar levels.

3. Dubious Ingredients

Some cough drops may contain herbal ingredients which may not be safe for consumption during pregnancy because of the lack of studies on them.

Therefore, before you take any kind of cough drops, make sure you read the label carefully. In case of any doubts, you should seek your doctor’s assistance.

Precautions to Take While Using Cough Drops

Here are some precautions that you should exercise before taking cough drops during pregnancy:

  • If you are suffering from gestational diabetes, choose sugar-free cough drops.
  • Read the label for ingredients that can act as possible allergens.
  • Make sure you check the expiry date of the drops as they may not only lose their efficacy but may taste bad too.
  • If there is a lot of mucus formation, consult your doctor before taking any drops as they may suppress the mucus formation.

If you are consulting with your doctor regarding consuming cough drops during pregnancy, ask them the following questions:

  1. How long do I have to take the cough drops for?
  2. Is my condition mild enough to be solved by cough drops alone?
  3. Do I have a lot of mucus in my cough?

These questions will help you understand the severity of your condition better.

Natural Alternatives to Cough Drops

Apart from cough drops, you may try various natural remedies to treat a cough. Following are some of the effective natural alternatives to cough drops:

  • Consume chamomile tea with honey to soothe your throat.
  • If you are a non-vegetarian, consuming homemade chicken soup can do wonders in providing relief from cough.
  • Honey lemon tea is also a good home remedy for cough and cold.
  • Gargling can help soothe an irritated throat.
  • Make use of humidifiers.
  • Adding ginger to your regular tea works too.

When to Call a Doctor

We recommend that you stop using home remedial measures and seek your doctor’s help right away under the following situations:

  • If you have a fever that 101 degrees or higher
  • If you have any kind of rash on your skin
  • If your cough persists for more than two days
  • If home remedies are not proving to be effective in improving your symptoms
  • If you have a severe headache
  • If you have nausea or vomiting

Any of the above-mentioned symptoms will require immediate medical assistance, so as soon as you register any of these symptoms, get in touch with your doctor.

A cough is not a very serious medical condition during pregnancy and can be easily managed. If you wish to take cough drops to soothe your throat, we recommend that you ask your doctor’s permission for the same. Every pregnancy is different and unique, and thus you and your doctor may know what may be best for you.

Resources and References: Healthline

Also Read: Loperamide In Pregnancy

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