The Correct Way to Have Cough Syrup: With or Without Water?

It’s common to develop a cough or a sore throat so you open up your cabinet and dig out the small bottle of cough syrup from Woods.

Because you don’t want to waste money going to the doctor for a mild cough.

(Which, BTW, you should really visit a doctor if you can because self-medication isn’t goody)

You take a shot of the minty, flavourful syrup and your mouth is now left craving for some water.

Now here comes the question – should you or should you not drink water?

On the one hand, you feel like drinking water would wash it away and defeat its purpose.

On the other hand, you can’t bear the taste in your mouth.

Well, today we’ve got the answer for you.

Perhaps the idea a lot of us bear is that the syrup coats your throat and soothes it. By drinking water, you’re washing it away and it’s no longer effective.

However, that’s false.

This common misconception probably stems from the soothing sensation you feel when the syrup flows down your throat.

However, that’s not how it works.

Well, proper cough syrups, anyway. This matter is more complicated than it seems.

There are two types of cough syrup.

One type is commonly said to rely on the placebo effect.

It literally coats your throat in a layer of glucose to soothe your throat and has no medicinal effect.

It does not cure coughs and sore throat, but instead just makes your throat feel better for a while.

In those cases, yes, drinking water after taking the syrup would dull its effects.

But then there’s the other type of cough syrup.

These types contain several ingredients like dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, and phenylephrine, which has actual medicinal effects.

These medicines work by being absorbed into your bloodstream after being processed in your stomach.

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So go ahead, drink up.

It doesn’t affect the cough syrup at all.

In fact, guaifenesin, one of the ingredients, is an expectorant. It actually helps to loosen the mucus in your throat when taken in conjunction with plenty of fluids.

So in actuality, drinking water after ingesting medicinal cough syrups is a win-win situation.


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So, be sure to check your ingredients of the cough syrup you buy.

If you just want to soothe your throat for the night before you see a doctor, or you just like the taste of sweet cough syrups like me, it doesn’t really matter.

But if you want to have the medicinal properties and be able to drink water afterwards, check the cough syrup’s label for the corresponding ingredients.

Here’s an example of the labelling for the Robitussin cough syrup.

But of course, the best scenario is to drink water often and eat junk food in moderation, so you don’t ever have this problem in the first place.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:
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This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: