When you have a sore throat or you can’t stop coughing, one of the first things you might turn to is cough drops.
Since cough drops usually come in a pack, you might have some left over by the time your cough passes.
If you get a tickle in your throat again a few months later, you may wonder if you can use the same cough drops to help or if they have expired.
Knowing if cough drops have expiration dates as well as a few other facts can help you stay healthy and potentially save some money.
Do Cough Drops Expire?
Yes, cough drops do expire.
You’ll see an expiration date on the package of cough drops that you’re using.
Once that date arrives, your cough drops are technically expired.
The reason cough drops expire is that they contain certain chemicals or ingredients with a shelf life.
When these ingredients reach that shelf life, they’re no longer as effective at helping you recover from your symptoms.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Expired Cough Drops?
If you’re on the fence over whether to use expired cough drops or not, then it might help you to consider the benefits of doing so.
Here are a few benefits of using expired cough drops.
1. Saves Money
Perhaps the biggest benefit of choosing to use expired cough drops over new ones is that it saves you money.
You don’t have to go out and buy a new pack of cough drops.
Since cough drops can sometimes be expensive, especially for people on a budget, being able to use expired ones can be helpful.
This also means you’re able to keep your cough drops longer.
A container of cough drops might last you several years before you run out and need a new one.
If you don’t mind using expired cough drops, then it could help you save a good amount of money in the long run.
2. You Still Get Relief
While your expired cough drops won’t be as effective as new cough drops, they should still provide you with some relief.
An exception might occur if you have a very bad cough and your cough drops are several years old.
In this case, the cough drops might not be effective enough to help you deal with your symptoms.
As such, you might not get the relief that you’re looking for.
In milder cases, however, you can still get enough relief from expired cough drops.
3. Allows You To Use Your Favorite Cough Drops
Not every brand of cough drops is pleasant to use.
Some brands add special flavors or coatings to their cough drops to make them easier to take.
You might enjoy its flavor or texture.
It might just have an easier time going down.
If it’s particularly hard to find that specific brand of cough drops, then you might not like the idea of throwing out your current cough drops because they expired.
By choosing to use your expired cough drops, you can still use the ones that you enjoy using.
At the very least, it can buy you a bit more time while you try to hunt down the brand for a new package.
4. Reduces Waste
A final benefit of using expired cough drops is that it helps reduce waste.
Unless you or your family get sick often, you probably don’t use cough drops all that much.
Throwing them out because they’ve expired is wasteful.
It takes resources to make cough drops.
It takes energy.
While some manufacturers may try to offset their energy usage or combat climate change, not all of them likely do.
At the very least, some might not do it as well as others.
Throwing your cough drops away because they’ve expired is wasting all the resources put into making that container.
It only further adds to climate damage because it then requires manufacturers to produce another container.
Holding onto the package and using the expired cough drops helps reduce waste.
In turn, you help reduce climate change just a bit more.
What Are The Consequences Of Using Expired Cough Drops?
While saving money may be an ideal benefit of using expired cough drops, there are a few negatives to holding onto them, too.
Here are some consequences or negatives of using expired cough drops.
1. Less Effective
Although taking expired cough drops won’t make you ill, you may find that they’re not as effective.
For example, if you’re suffering from a bad cough, then you want relief.
By using your expired cough drops, you may find that they ease your coughing, but they don’t completely get rid of it like they used to.
Your quality of life hasn’t improved despite having taken the medication.
If you’re relying on your cough drops to make you feel better, the fact that they’re not that effective could be frustrating.
2. Need To Take More
Because your cough drops aren’t as effective, you might feel the need to take more of them.
While it’s difficult to overdose on cough drops, it is possible.
That’s because cough drops contain menthol.
Too much menthol is toxic for the body.
That said, cough drops only contain a few milligrams of menthol.
According to Healthline, someone who weighs 150 pounds would need to consume 6,800 cough drops to overdose.
They’d also have to consume them in a short amount of time.
Not a lot of people are willing to eat that many cough drops to get high or overdose.
They’d also have to buy a big jar of cough drops or buy several containers.
Since some stores might have a limit to the number of drops you can buy in a day, it might be difficult to even get your hands on 6,800 drops in the first place.
Regardless, if you need your cough drops to work more effectively, you may decide to take more than the recommended dosage.
That can cause other problems which can make suffering from a cough seem like nothing.
As such, it’s sometimes better to stick with new cough drops, so you can get a more effective response and keep from using lots of drops at once.
3. Updated Dosaging
One reason manufacturers put expiration dates on their drugs is that the dosage might change in the future.
The manufacturer might come up with a new recipe, for example, that makes the cough drop more effective.
As such, the dosage might change since the individual doesn’t need to take as many drops to get the full effect.
There may have even been a problem with the dosage originally.
Getting new cough drops gives you access to updated dosage information.
Not only might you find that the drops are more effective, but you can be sure that you’re taking the right amount of drops, too.
What Are The Symptoms Of Eating Too Many Cough Drops?
If you decided to hold onto your expired cough drops and use them, then you may have discovered that they’re not as effective.
As such, you may have decided to take more drops to get the same effect.
However, you may wonder if you’re experiencing symptoms as a result of taking too many cough drops.
Here are some symptoms you might experience if you take too many cough drops.
1. Stomach Pain
One of the first symptoms you might experience if you eat too many cough drops is stomach pain.
Because some cough drops use artificial sweeteners, they can start to make your stomach ache.
By eating a lot of cough drops, you’re taking in a lot of sugar, too.
Sugar, mixed with the other ingredients in cough drops, can cause your stomach to experience pain.
If the pain grows worse or doesn’t recede with time, then it may be worth visiting urgent care for some help.
Along with stomach pain, you might also experience nausea.
This might also be due to the amount of sugar you ingested by eating a large number of cough drops.
Because artificial sweeteners cause problems with water storage in the body, you can become dehydrated.
When you’re dehydrated, one of the ways your body can tell you is with nausea.
Once you drink enough water, the nausea might subside.
Nausea might also occur because of the toxicity of menthol.
If you ingest too much of it, then your body might be trying to make you purge it from your system.
To prepare you for vomiting, it makes you feel nauseous.
If your stomach pain and nausea become too intense, then you might start vomiting.
This is another sign that you ate too many cough drops.
At this point, your body is trying to purge itself of the excess menthol and artificial sweeteners.
You might feel better after vomiting since some of the menthol and sweeteners will have left your body.
If you still feel nauseous and continue to vomit, however, then you might want to try and make it to urgent care to receive help.
4. Rapid Heart Rate
Another symptom of eating too many cough drops is a rapid heart rate.
You may feel as though your heart is pounding in your chest.
It may even cause other symptoms.
If you feel as though your heart is being faster than it should, it could be because of the cough drops.
Cough drops and other over-the-counter remedies affect your heart rate because they interact with the blood vessels that run throughout your body.
They also stimulate your heart.
While your sinuses and coughing might ease, you might find yourself with an overactive heart instead.
This can be a problem for people with certain heart conditions.
An abnormally-stimulated heart could lead to heart palpitations that worsen your heart’s health.
It could even cause cardiac arrest if you have an existing heart condition.
If you notice that your heart is beating faster after taking a large number of cough drops, then you should sit down and try to keep yourself from doing anything strenuous.
It can take a few hours for the cough drops to stop affecting your heart, however.
If you have a heart condition and your heart is racing, you should consider a visit to urgent care just in case.
Some cough drops can make you feel drowsy.
If you take too many of these types of cough drops, then you might feel exhausted.
Your mind may be unable to focus, and it can be difficult to make quick decisions or react quickly.
That’s why many cough drops that make you drowsy will warn you against driving or operating heavy machinery.
You may not have the reaction time needed to prevent an accident.
You might also find that you’re unproductive at work after taking too many cough drops.
This becomes a problem because a lot of people will take cough drops to help clear their heads and sinuses in order to go to work.
However, if they take too many, then they might find themselves struggling with productivity all the same.
There’s also always the possibility that you might feel so drowsy that you end up passing out.
While feeling drowsy shouldn’t make you go to urgent care, it can completely ruin your day.
Drowsiness isn’t the only thing that cough drops can do to your head.
They can also make you confused.
When you have too many cough drops, your head can become sluggish.
It can be difficult to put things together and understand what’s going on around you.
A part of that comes down to drowsiness.
You may be too tired to be aware of your surroundings.
As such, you may have some confusion as to what’s going on.
That’s another reason why driving after taking too many cough drops isn’t advised.
You might get confused as to what to do at a stop light.
That might make you cause an accident and seriously hurt someone.
It can also impact work performance.
If you’re unsure of how to tackle a problem, then you might have the whole office waiting for you to do something.
Like drowsiness, experiencing confusion shouldn’t send you to urgent care.
However, it is a sign that you probably took too many cough drops.
Cough drops tend to help get rid of many symptoms caused by the flu or a cold.
They can ease your coughing, open up your lungs, and take care of your sore throat.
You might even find that it stops your runny nose.
However, despite all that, eating too many cough drops could cause a headache.
Part of the reason it can cause a headache is the artificial sweeteners.
Since they affect water storage, they can dehydrate you.
When your body doesn’t have enough water, one of the first symptoms you’ll feel is a headache.
That’s because your brain needs water to function.
Without it, thinking and reacting can become difficult.
Since your brain doesn’t have enough water, it will cause a headache as a way to encourage you to drink water.
It might also be a way of your brain telling you that you’re suffering from menthol toxicity.
While menthol is safe to use in small quantities, having too much of it, like eating too many cough drops, can make it start to become toxic in your body.
If your headache persists after a few days, then it might be worth visiting urgent care for help.
Cough drops do expire just like any other medication.
However, you can still technically use them after their expiration date.
You may find that they’re not as effective, however, and end up taking too many to get the same effect.
As such, you might experience some of the above-listed symptoms.