When you’re sick, a cough drop can feel like the most satisfying thing in the world. They’re tasty, they’re candy, and they’re effective — your aching throat immediately gets to experience that sweet, sweet relief.
Of course, the effect is temporary. Before you know it, you’re reaching into your bag for more for what seems like the billionth time. How many cough drops have you had today? At some point, you got concerned you could be in danger of an overdose. But is a cough drop overdose even really a thing?
Long story short: Yes, you can overdose on cough drops. Most cough drops contain menthol, meaning that menthol poisoning could occur if you’ve had too many.
But here’s the catch: You’d have to eat, like, a bajillion cough drops. The lethal dose of menthol is one gram per kilogram of body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, around 68 kilograms, you’d have to eat 68 grams of menthol. Each cough drop only contains 3 to 10 milligrams of menthol — meaning you’d have to consume a minimum of 6,800 cough drops to really overdo it.
That doesn’t give you license to eat as many as you want without consequences, however. Like with almost any food or drink, consuming an excessive amount of cough drops can result in a few uncomfortable symptoms. You will likely experience a stomachache, nausea, drowsiness, or a headache. If your body’s giving you these signs, it’s time to stop.
There was one strange case in which a man experienced dire symptoms after eating whole bags of cough drops every day for over 20 years. His skin and mouth became covered in lesions, he was extremely disoriented, and he even lost control of his muscles and limbs. But again, this man was eating a ton of cough drops. The symptoms ceased once he brought himself to give them up.
Whatever it is about cough drops that makes them so tempting, there’s no need to worry. Your cough drop addiction likely isn’t life threatening; there are more dangerous foods to keep an eye on.