Are cough drops safe to eat while pregnant?

Cough drops are generally considered safe for pregnant women when used occasionally. However, as with any medication or supplement, it’s best to consult your doctor before regularly consuming cough drops while pregnant.

Are there risks associated with eating cough drops while pregnant?

The ingredients in most over-the-counter cough drops are not known to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies when consumed in small amounts. The main ingredients in cough drops are menthol, eucalyptus oil, and dextromethorphan (DM).

Menthol and eucalyptus oil can help soothe sore throats and act as cough suppressants. There is no evidence that consuming small amounts of menthol or eucalyptus oil during pregnancy is dangerous.

Dextromethorphan (DM) is generally considered safe during pregnancy when used as directed. Large amounts of DM can cause complications, so it’s best to avoid excessive intake of DM-containing cough drops.

The two main risks associated with overusing cough drops during pregnancy are:

  • Consuming large amounts of menthol may increase risk of miscarriage or preterm labor. Menthol can stimulate the uterus.
  • Taking too much dextromethorphan (DM) can cause birth defects and other fetal complications.

As long as you consume cough drops occasionally and stick to the recommended dosage, they are unlikely to pose risks during pregnancy. Discuss any concerns with your prenatal care provider.

Are certain cough drop ingredients safer than others during pregnancy?

Here is how common cough drop ingredients generally compare in terms of safety for pregnant women:

Safer ingredients

  • Honey – Safe for pregnant women and may help suppress coughs.
  • Sucrose – Table sugar that poses no known risks in the small amounts found in cough drops.
  • Acacia – A natural gum used as a demulcent. No evidence of fetal risk.
  • Glycerin – Often used as a demulcent. Minimal absorption makes it unlikely to be risky.

Use with caution

  • Menthol – Safe in small doses but talk to your doctor about regular use.
  • Eucalyptus oil – Like menthol, safe in moderation but avoid excessive use.
  • Dextromethorphan (DM) – Generally considered safe up to 120 mg per day when pregnant. Excessive use can be dangerous.


  • Alcohol – Unsafe during pregnancy and found in some cough drops.
  • Capsaicin – Can trigger uterine contractions. Safer options available.
  • Antihistamines – Mixed evidence on safety. Talk to your doctor.

When in doubt, choose cough drops containing simple ingredients like honey or glycerin. Menthol and eucalyptus oil are likely safe when used moderately but check with your doctor.

How much is too much when it comes to eating cough drops while pregnant?

There are no set guidelines for how many cough drops pregnant women can safely consume. Here are some general recommendations:

  • Limit yourself to 1-2 cough drops every 2-3 hours as needed for cough/sore throat relief.
  • Do not exceed 4-8 cough drops total in a 24-hour period.
  • Always stick to the dosage instructions listed on the package.
  • Avoid excessive or frequent use of cough drops containing menthol, eucalyptus oil, or dextromethorphan (DM).

Consuming more than the recommended dosage of any cough medicine ingredient could be unsafe. Menthol, for example, can cause uterus stimulation in large amounts. Too much DM also carries risks.

Talk to your doctor about finding an appropriate balance between managing your cough symptoms and avoiding exposure to high levels of cough drop ingredients.

Are Halls cough drops safe during pregnancy?

Most flavors of Halls cough drops are considered safe for pregnant women when used as directed on the package. Halls are sugar-free and contain menthol as the primary active ingredient for suppressing coughs.

Here is an overview of some common Halls cough drop flavors and their pregnancy safety:

Halls Flavor Main Ingredients Pregnancy Safety
Halls Regular Menthol Menthol (7.5mg) Likely safe when used moderately
Halls Honey Lemon Menthol (5mg), honey Considered safe
Halls Soothers (DM) Dextromethorphan HBr (7.5mg), menthol Safe up to recommended dosage
Halls Breezers Menthol, eucalyptus oil Safe in moderation

The menthol dosage in Halls cough drops is relatively low at 5-7.5mg per drop. Consuming 1-2 drops every 2-3 hours as needed is unlikely to pose any risks. Soothers contain DM so be sure not to exceed the recommended daily amount.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns over using Halls while pregnant. Proper dosage and moderation are key.

Are Luden’s cough drops safe when pregnant?

Most Luden’s cough drops flavors are considered safe for pregnant women when consumed occasionally. However, some varieties do contain ingredients that should be avoided or minimized.

Here is an overview of some common Luden’s cough drop flavors and pregnancy safety:

Luden’s Flavor Main Ingredients Pregnancy Safety
Wild Cherry Menthol, benzalkonium chloride Safe up to 2-4 drops daily
Honey Licorice Menthol, dextromethorphan HBr Safe in moderation
Strawberry Sugar, citric acid, red food coloring Considered safe
Menthol Eucalyptus Menthol, eucalyptus oil Use caution; limit intake

The main concerning ingredients in some Luden’s varieties are menthol, eucalyptus oil, and DM. Use moderation when consuming these types while pregnant. Safer options include the strawberry flavor.

Check with your doctor about any specific Luden’s ingredients you want to avoid. As always, proper dosage and moderation are key.

Can menthol cough drops cause miscarriage or preterm labor?

There is no evidence conclusively linking the occasional use of menthol cough drops to increased miscarriage risk. However, consuming menthol cough drops excessively could potentially stimulate contractions.

Menthol is known to interact with receptors in the digestive tract that can trigger smooth muscle contractions. Theoretically, large amounts of menthol could stimulate the uterine muscles.

Most experts agree that consuming small amounts of menthol, such as in a couple cough drops per day, is unlikely to stimulate the uterus enough to induce labor. But frequent, high intake of menthol while pregnant could potentially increase risks.

To be safe, limit your menthol cough drop intake to no more than a couple per day. Discuss any use of menthol while pregnant with your doctor.

Tips to reduce risks from menthol cough drops

  • Choose cough drops with lower menthol content when possible.
  • Suck on cough drops slowly to minimize menthol absorption.
  • Drink plenty of water to help dilute any menthol effects.
  • Avoid excessive menthol exposure from other products like ointments.
  • Talk to your doctor about any cough drop concerns or alternatives.

Again, occasional menthol cough drop use is unlikely to increase miscarriage risk. But frequent high doses could stimulate contractions, so moderation is key.

Can dextromethorphan (DM) cough drops harm your unborn baby?

Dextromethorphan (DM) is generally considered safe during pregnancy when used appropriately. But exceeding the recommended dosage of DM cough drops may increase risks.

DM is an over-the-counter cough suppressant. Most experts agree that taking up to 120 mg daily in the first trimester and 240 mg daily in subsequent trimesters is unlikely to cause fetal complications.

Potential risks from excess DM exposure during pregnancy include:

  • Birth defects affecting the brain, heart, or genitals
  • Developmental delays
  • Preterm birth or low birth weight
  • Withdrawal symptoms in newborns

To be safe, carefully read dosage instructions on any DM-containing cough drops. Avoid exceeding the maximum recommended amount per day.

Also, only use DM cough drops when clearly needed for cough symptom relief. Overuse without an active cough could needlessly expose your baby to higher DM levels.

Talk to your doctor about your DM cough drop use during pregnancy. Proper moderation and dosage can reduce any risks.

Tips for safely using DM cough drops when pregnant

  • Carefully read packaging for dosage guidelines.
  • Calculate your total DM intake from all sources.
  • Do not take more than 120-240 mg DM daily.
  • Allow 6-8 hours between doses.
  • Only use when actively coughing.
  • Ask your doctor about prescription options if needed.

With smart, occasional use focused on symptom relief, DM cough drops can be safe during pregnancy. But exceeding dosage guidelines may pose unnecessary risks.

Are natural cough drops safer to use than medicated ones when pregnant?

Natural cough drops without synthetic active drugs are generally considered safe for pregnant women. But “natural” does not automatically mean risk-free.

Many herbal ingredients have not been widely studied for pregnancy safety. Certain natural compounds can also stimulate uterine contractions, much like menthol.

Some safer, natural cough drop options during pregnancy include:

  • Honey – Has demulcent properties to coat and soothe throat irritation.
  • Licorice root – Considered safe and may ease coughing.
  • Slippery elm – Demulcent that poses minimal risk.
  • Marshmallow root – Soothes mucous membranes without stimulant effects.

Natural ingredients to use with caution or avoid include:

  • Eucalyptus oil – Can be unsafe in high doses.
  • Lemongrass – May stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Thyme – Large amounts could be risky.
  • Peppermint oil – Contains menthol so limit intake.

Always read ingredients lists carefully even on natural cough drops. When in doubt, consult your doctor about any herbal ingredients.

Moderation and proper dosage are still important with natural options. But they can be safer alternatives to heavily medicated cough drops when pregnant.

What precautions should you take when consuming cough drops while pregnant?

Here are some recommended precautions to reduce risks and safely use cough drops during pregnancy:

  • Read packaging carefully – Check ingredients lists and dosage guidelines.
  • Use as directed – Follow recommended dosing amounts and frequency.
  • Avoid excessive intake – Limit usage to 1-2 drops every 2-3 hours maximum.
  • Minimize risky ingredients – Limit menthol, eucalyptus, DM, and unknown herbs.
  • Space out consumption – Allow several hours between each cough drop.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – Stay hydrated to dilute any ingredients absorbed.
  • Consult your doctor – Discuss any questions or concerns about cough drop risks.

Being an informed, cautious consumer can go a long way towards safely using cough drops as needed during pregnancy. Moderation and smart choices reduce potential risks.

Are cough drop ingredients transferred through breast milk?

Most cough drop ingredients are unlikely to be noticeably transferred through breast milk or negatively impact a breastfeeding infant when consumed by the mother in small amounts.

However, some precautions are still recommended when using cough drops while breastfeeding. These include:

  • Limiting menthol intake to avoid excess exposure for infant.
  • Being cautious with eucalyptus oil as levels excreted in milk are unknown.
  • Closely following dosage guidelines for any dextromethorphan (DM).
  • Minimizing use of cough drops with antihistamines or capsicum.
  • Paying attention to infant for signs of irritability or sensitivity.

There are no set limits on cough drop use while breastfeeding. Small amounts of most ingredients are unlikely to cause issues. But use moderation and consult your doctor with any concerns.


Used occasionally and as directed, most standard cough drops are considered safe during pregnancy. However, frequent overuse and exceed dosage recommendations can potentially increase risks for both mother and baby.

To minimize risks, choose cough drops with safer ingredients like honey or glycerin. Avoid alcohol and capsicum. Limit intake of menthol, eucalyptus oil, and DM through moderation, spacing out consumption, and carefully following packaging instructions.

Natural options are not automatically safer than medicated alternatives. Evaluate ingredients lists closely and consult your doctor with any product questions or concerns.

With smart precautions and occasional, short-term use as needed for symptom relief, cough drops can be consumed without major concerns by most pregnant women.

Leave a Comment