why are cough remedies (suppressants, etc) syrups?


Why not a pill or an inhaler? (Couldn’t decide between chemistry and biology for flair)

In: 7

Imagine you have a scratchy feeling in your throat, and it makes you want to cough. Cough remedies, like cough syrups, help to make your throat feel better. They are like sweet, thick, magical juice that helps to soothe your scratchy throat.

Cough syrups are liquid, which makes it easy for them to coat your throat as you swallow. This is like putting a band-aid on a boo-boo, but for your throat! Pills are not as good at doing this because they don’t spread around like the liquid syrup does.

So, cough syrups are used because they can reach and soothe your throat better than pills can.

You can find them in pill and tablet form just as many as syrups. Dextromethorphan is ingredient that stops the cough. It turns off the part of the brain that makes you cough. They often come in syrup because it’s cheaper and easier for your body to absorb than tablets. Tablets takes time as the body needs to disolve it before absorbing.

They don’t have to be. Take *dextromethorphan*, which is a cough suppressant. You can get it in pill form and it will work just as well. It’s not a local medication – it affects your whole body. It’s just that the numbing effect it has also works well to suppress the irritation in your throat that causes you to cough (especially with a dry cough that is only caused by this irritation). Dextromethorphan has to pass through your digestive tract in order to get absorbed into the bloodstream and be delivered to the chemical receptors that it is designed to target.

So why put it in a syrup? Well, because the syrup itself has an effect too. Just swallowing some honey, for instance, can provide some temporary relief from a dry cough. Add some menthol or eucalyptus oil and the soothing effect will be increased. You can get cough syrups that are just that: a sugary syrup with some herb extracts that are naturally soothing to your throat. But they only work briefly, for as long as the ingredients stick around in your throat.

A cough syrup with something like dextromethorphan is a double whammy: instant and long term effects combined in one product. Whether this combination really makes sense is doubtful though. Adding the dextromethorphan to the syrup means you can only take a few doses of it every day, spaced hours apart. So if you want the instant relief from the syrup and herbs more often, you can’t. And the dextromethorphan works just as well if you take it separately as a pill. So arguably it makes a lot more sense just to keep them separate, so you can take each of them when you need it. But combination drugs seem to sell well, especially in the US, for various reasons. For a cough syrup in particular, if you can give your customers instant relief, that’s a more positive experience overall and one that correlates directly with the time that you use it, so as a result people might form a better opinion of your product, compared to a pill whose effects only become noticeable some time after taking it.