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Myth Busting Series Part VII

This week we take on busting the vocal myth of throat sprays and lozenges.

True or false?

Lozenges and throat sprays are good for your voice

The answer depends.

Vis a vis vocal health, the determining factor for most of these products is the ingredients. Most medical voice centers recommend avoiding lozenges and/or throat sprays that contain mint, menthol, or eucalyptus. These ingredients act on cold receptors in the throat (that’s the “cool blast” of sensation they give) and can ultimately be irritating (Johnson et al., 2018). Vocal athletes should also avoid anything numbing such as benzocaine (active ingredient in Cepacol and Chloraseptic). These just mask the sensation in your throat. Look for ingredients such as glycerin, slippery elm, or pectin. These are demulcents, which can be soothing (BMJ, 2003; Eccles & Mallefet, 2017)

Regarding throat sprays, Roy et al. (2003) found no significant vocal benefit to using throat sprays containing water, Mannitol and Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief (a glycerin-based product). They reported that even if the throat sprays lower phonation threshold pressure (a measure of how efficiently and easily the vocal folds are working), the benefit only lasted for about 20 minutes. 

While this study suggests there’s no clear benefit to these throat sprays, everyone is different! It’s important to consider the individual. If you feel using throat sprays is helpful and the product doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients, no harm done. Remember problematic ingredients include alcohol, mint, menthol, eucalyptus, or numbing agents such as phenol or benzocaine. 

The bigger question is why do people feel they need the lozenges or throat sprays? Are you having pain in your throat? Are you looking for relief from a sensation of dryness or mucus? These can be signs of an underlying voice problem and should be checked out by a voice team.  Which is exactly where we go from here.

Next Friday, we start a new series: A Vocal Athlete Needs a Vocal Health Team. We’ll talk about who you should look for in a vocal health team, what a voice evaluation is like, how voice problems are treated, and more!

Enjoy the weekend,
Your SonoVoice Team


Eccles, R., & Mallefet, P. (2017). Soothing Properties of Glycerol in Cough Syrups for Acute Cough Due to Common Cold. Pharmacy (Basel, Switzerland), 5(1), 4.

Herbal tea helps reduce the pain of acute pharyngitis. (2003). BMJ : British Medical Journal, 327(7417), 0. 

Johnson, D., Mead, R., Kennelty, K., & Hahn, D. (2018). Menthol Cough Drops: Cause for Concern?. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: JABFM, 31(2), 183–191.

Roy, N., Tanner, K., Gray, S. D., Blomgren, M., & Fisher, K. V. (2003). An evaluation of the effects of three laryngeal lubricants on phonation threshold pressure (PTP). Journal of Voice; 17(3), 331–342.

Next Week: A Vocal Athlete Needs a Vocal Health Team

You are a vocal athlete!

Athletes put superhuman demands on the human body. They practice to stay in shape, get better and prepare for the event. No athlete expects to perform at their best without working on their technique, practicing skills, and preparing for the game. 

The same goes for you as a vocal athlete. Practice will help you be prepared for your event: performance. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut! If you want to be at your best as a singer, you’ll need to establish a regular vocal exercise and practice regimen.

In our weekly Vocal Fitness Friday email, SonoVoice's team of experts in science-based voice training  will be sharing information about how the voice works, tips on keeping your voice healthy, and ideas for vocal exercises for peak vocal fitness.