Can diabetics take sugar free cough drops?

Quick Answer

Yes, diabetics can generally take sugar free cough drops. Sugar free cough drops do not contain sugar or raise blood glucose levels, so they are considered safe for diabetics. However, diabetics should still read labels carefully and look for potential carbohydrates like maltitol or sorbitol, which can affect blood sugar. Overall, sugar free cough drops are a good option to soothe a sore throat without spiking blood glucose.

What Are Sugar Free Cough Drops?

Sugar free cough drops, also called sugarless cough drops, do not contain any sugar. They are designed to soothe sore throats and provide cough relief without adding calories or carbohydrates. Most sugar free cough drops contain sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol instead of real sugar. These sugar alcohols provide a sweet taste but do not raise blood glucose levels like regular table sugar (sucrose).

Here are some of the most common ingredients found in sugar free cough drops:

  • Xylitol – A natural sweetener extracted from birch trees. It has 40% fewer calories than sugar and does not impact blood sugar or insulin levels.
  • Sorbitol – A sugar alcohol derived from fruits like prunes and berries. It has about 60% of the sweetness of sugar but absorbs more slowly so it does not spike blood glucose.
  • Maltitol – A sugar alcohol often made from maltose. It has 75-90% of the sweetness of sugar but with fewer calories and carbs.
  • Isomalt – A sugar substitute made from sucrose. It has half the calories of sugar but similar sweetness.
  • Aspartame – An artificial sweetener around 200 times sweeter than sugar. It has minimal effects on blood glucose.
  • Acesulfame potassium – An artificial sweetener up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. It passes through the body without being digested.
  • Flavorings – Sugar free cough drops often contain menthol, eucalyptus, honey, lemon, or cherry flavors to soothe the throat.
  • Slippery elm – An herb added to coat and soothe irritated throat tissues.

In addition to artificial sweeteners, most sugar free cough drops contain other inactive ingredients like corn syrup solids, gum arabic, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, and natural colors and flavors.

Overall, sugar free cough drops provide sweetness without sucrose or carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels. However, some sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol can still affect blood glucose, although to a lesser degree than regular sugar.

Are Sugar Free Cough Drops Safe for Diabetics?

In general, sugar free cough drops are considered safe for people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), sugar free cough drops will not directly raise blood glucose levels or require insulin to metabolize.

Most sugar substitutes like xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol have a very minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin secretion. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose also have little to no effect on blood glucose. Therefore, sugar free cough drops are not expected to cause hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia in diabetics.

However, the ADA suggests reading labels carefully, as some sugar free cough drops may contain maltitol or sorbitol. These sugar alcohols can still impact blood glucose, although not to the same extent as regular sugar. The effect varies based on the individual and the amount consumed.

The ADA recommends counting half the grams of maltitol or sorbitol as carbohydrates for blood sugar management, compared to counting all grams of regular sugar. This can help diabetics incorporate these sugar alcohols into their meal plan while accounting for their potential blood sugar effects.

Overall, sugar free cough drops are considered a smart choice for people with diabetes. They provide symptom relief without the concerns of spiking blood sugar or disrupting glycemic control. As always, moderation is key even when choosing sugar free options.

Do Sugar Free Cough Drops Raise Blood Sugar?

Sugar free cough drops do not directly raise blood glucose levels like regular sugar-based cough drops. However, some sugar alcohols in sugar free cough drops can still affect blood sugar in certain individuals.

Here is how some common sugar substitutes may impact blood glucose:

  • Xylitol – Does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels.
  • Sorbitol – Can slightly raise blood glucose but less than regular sugar. Has about half the glycemic impact of sucrose.
  • Maltitol – Can modestly raise blood sugar but significantly less than sugar. Glycemic impact around 35% that of sucrose.
  • Aspartame – Does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels.
  • Sucralose – Does not raise blood sugar or insulin secretion.

The key offenders for potentially raising blood sugar seem to be maltitol and sorbitol. However, studies show the glycemic impact is significantly less compared to regular table sugar.

For example, a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested maltitol and found it did not cause a significant spike in blood glucose in either diabetic or non-diabetic subjects. Another study found a 25 gram dose of sorbitol only raised blood glucose levels by about 5 mg/dL compared to regular sucrose.

However, effects can vary based on the individual and serving size consumed. People vary in absorption and sensitivity to these sugar alcohols. Consuming excessive amounts could potentially impact blood sugar more significantly.

Overall, sugar free cough drops are unlikely to cause major spikes in blood glucose for most diabetics. But it is wise to consume them in moderation and be aware of potential effects from sugar alcohols like maltitol or sorbitol. Checking blood sugar levels can help determine personal tolerability.

Tips for Diabetics Using Sugar Free Cough Drops

Here are some tips for diabetics considering sugar free cough drops:

– Read nutrition labels carefully and look for maltitol, sorbitol or other sugar alcohols. Be aware these may have minimal effects on blood glucose, especially in large amounts.

– Check the carbohydrate content. Some sugar free cough drops may still contain 1-2 grams of carbs per drop. Account for this in meal planning.

– Start with 1 drop at a time to assess tolerance, especially when trying a new brand. Gradually increase as needed.

– Avoid excessive consumption which may increase risk of gastrointestinal side effects or potential blood sugar impacts.

– Consider brands made with xylitol or aspartame which do not affect blood sugar at all.

– Monitor blood glucose closely after consuming cough drops with maltitol or sorbitol and adjust insulin or medication if needed.

– Store cough drops properly to prevent sugar alcohols from crystallizing which can cause gastrointestinal issues.

– Drink plenty of water to prevent throat dryness or irritation which can occur with prolonged cough drop use.

– Talk to a doctor or pharmacist about any drug interactions regarding artificial sweeteners or other cough drop ingredients.

Being an informed consumer and using cough drops in moderation can help diabetics reap the soothing benefits of sugar free options without worrying about significant blood sugar fluctuations. Checking blood glucose levels provides helpful feedback as well.

Best Sugar Free Cough Drops for Diabetics

Here are some of the top sugar free cough drop options suitable for diabetics:

Luden’s Wild Cherry

– Sweetened with sucralose which does not raise blood sugar
– No maltitol, sorbitol or other carbohydrates
– Pleasant wild cherry flavor
– 3 calories per drop

Halls Soothers

– Uses xylitol as the main sweetener
– Xylitol does not affect blood glucose levels
– Free of sugar alcohols like maltitol or sorbitol
– 7 calories per drop

Ricola Sugar Free Lemon Mint

– Sweetened with aspartame which has no effect on blood sugar
– Free of maltitol, sorbitol and sugar alcohols
– Refreshing lemon mint flavor
– 5 calories per drop

Cepacol Sensations Cherry

– Sugar free with sucralose sweetener
– Does not contain maltitol or other carbohydrates
– Provides soothing relief for sore throat
– 4 calories per drop

Theraflu Throat Drops Cherry Flavor

– Sugar free with sucralose and aspartame
– No maltitol, sorbitol or other carbs
– Formulated to relieve cough and sore throat
– 4 calories per drop

Always read nutrition labels thoroughly and look for potential carbohydrates like maltitol or sorbitol. But overall, sugar free options like these make good choices to help suppress coughs without worrying about blood sugar effects.

Are There Any Risks of Sugar Free Cough Drops for Diabetics?

Sugar free cough drops are generally considered safe for diabetics when consumed in moderation. However, there are a few potential risks to consider:

Gastrointestinal distress – Sugar alcohols like sorbitol and maltitol can sometimes cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea when consumed in large amounts, due to their incomplete absorption. This risk goes up with excessive consumption of cough drops.

Allergic reactions – Rarely, people may be allergic to ingredients in sugar free cough drops like flavorings, food dyes, or preservatives. Reactions like hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing can occur.

Dental cavities – Some sugar free cough drops contain acids that can erode tooth enamel over time, increasing dental caries risk. Proper oral hygiene is important.

Drug interactions – Sugar alcohols may potentially interact with certain medications like lithium, metformin, and antifungals. Aspartame also interacts with some drugs.

Throat dryness – Prolonged overuse of cough drops can sometimes cause rebound irritation due to increased throat dryness. It’s best to use cough drops only as needed.

Effects on blood sugar – Despite being sugar free, ingredients like maltitol may mildly affect blood glucose, especially in excess amounts. Moderation and monitoring are advised.

As with any medication, side effects are possible even with sugar free cough drops. However, risks are low when used properly for temporary cough relief. Talk to a pharmacist about potential concerns. Being informed about sugar substitutes, avoiding overuse, and listening to your body can help minimize any risks.

Are Halls Cough Drops Safe for Diabetics?

Most Halls cough drops are considered safe for people with diabetes. Here’s a rundown of key information:

Sugar Free Options – Halls makes several sugar free varieties sweetened with aspartame or saccharin which do not raise blood sugar. These are the safest types for diabetics.

Sorbitol – Some menthol & eucalyptus Halls drops contain sorbitol. While sorbitol has less glycemic impact than sugar, it can mildly affect blood glucose in some individuals.

Read Labels – Ingredients and formulas vary between Halls products. Always check nutrition labels and ingredients lists, especially for maltitol or sorbitol.

Portion Control – Consuming high amounts could potentially impact blood sugar more due to the sorbitol content. Stick to 1-2 drops at a time.

Consider Glycemic Response – All individuals vary in their response to sugar alcohols. Monitor blood glucose to see how your body responds.

Ask Your Doctor – Check with your healthcare provider about using Halls cough drops to ensure safety with your diabetes medication and blood sugar management.

While most Halls cough drops are low risk, sugar free options like Halls Soothers Ice are the best choice for diabetics to avoid any blood sugar impacts. As always, moderation, label reading, and blood sugar monitoring is key. Consult a doctor with any concerns.

Do Luden’s Cough Drops Affect Blood Sugar?

Most Luden’s cough drops do not directly affect blood sugar levels. However, here are some key considerations:

Sugar Free Options – Luden’s makes several sugar free varieties sweetened with sucralose or sorbitol. Sucralose has no impact on blood sugar.

Sorbitol Effects – Some Luden’s drops contain sorbitol, which may mildly raise blood glucose in certain individuals. The effect is less than regular sugar.

Ingredients Vary – Check labels to see if maltitol or sorbitol are listed. Stick to sucralose-sweetened versions to be safe.

Portion Control – Consuming many cough drops may increase sorbitol exposure. Use Luden’s in moderation.

Individual Factors – People vary in their response to sugar alcohols like sorbitol based on absorption rates. Monitor your personal effects.

Ask Your Doctor – Check with your medical provider about using Luden’s cough drops to ensure safety and discuss proper portion sizes.

Overall, most Luden’s cough drops are a low glycemic choice but sucralose-sweetened varieties are best for diabetics. Using portion control, reading labels, and picking sugar-free options can help minimize blood sugar risks.

What About Ricola Cough Drops for Diabetics?

Here is key information about Ricola cough drops for diabetics:

Sugar Free – Ricola makes sugar free drops sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener that does not affect blood sugar. These are the best options.

Added Sugars – Some Ricola drops do contain added sugars like high fructose corn syrup or sucrose. These varieties are not recommended for diabetics as they can spike blood glucose levels.

Portion Limits – All cough drops should be used in moderation. Even sugar free types have minor risks if over-consumed.

Read Labels – Check ingredients lists and nutrition facts. Look for “sugar free” and avoid drops with added sugars.

Ask Your Doctor – Discuss use of Ricola cough drops with your doctor to choose an appropriate formula and portion limits tailored to your diabetes management plan.

While the sugar free versions have little impact on blood sugar, Ricola cough drops with real added sugars should be avoided by people with diabetes. Read labels carefully, stick to sugar free, and consume in moderation for best results.


Sugar free cough drops provide diabetics with an effective way to relieve coughs and sore throats without worrying about spiking blood glucose levels. While most sugar substitutes have minimal impact on blood sugar, some cough drop ingredients like maltitol and sorbitol can have slight effects in sensitive individuals. Reading labels, practicing portion control, and choosing artificially-sweetened brands like Luden’s or Halls can allow diabetics to safely reap the benefits of sugar free cough drops. Monitoring individual response and discussing use with a doctor ensures proper precautions are taken for optimal diabetes management. Overall, sugar free cough drops are a smart choice to suppress coughs while avoiding blood sugar fluctuations.

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