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Over the counter lozenges could help a sore throat

Lozenges that contain a painkilling drug called flurbiprofen could help to reduce the symptoms of a sore throat, a new study finds.
By Kathy Oxtoby

BMJ Group News

What do we know already?

Feature Sore Throat

Sore throats are common and are caused by an infection. The infection could be caused by bacteria or a virus. Often a sore throat is part of another illness, such as a cold. A sore throat isn’t usually serious and will probably get better on its own after three or four days.

There are treatments that can help to relieve the pain of a sore throat. You can get painkillers that dissolve slowly in your mouth. There are lots of treatments for sore throat that are available to buy at a pharmacy, but it can be difficult to know which of any of them work.

You can buy lozenges from a pharmacist that contain a drug called flurbiprofen, which is similar to ibuprofen. Flurbiprofen is a type of painkiller called a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID.

A new study has looked at if taking lozenges containing flurbiprofen can help to relieve the pain of a sore throat. Some 373 people aged between 18 and 75 who had a sore throat took part in the study. Half of them took at least one lozenge containing flurbiprofen while the other half took a dummy drug (a placebo). Researchers then asked people about their symptoms and compared whether people who had at least one dose of the lozenge felt better than those who had the dummy treatment.

What does the new study say?

People who had at least one lozenge said they felt better compared to those who had the dummy treatment. Within one minute, people who took the lozenge said they felt better. The study also found that those who took the lozenge said their pain was relieved for least six hours compared to those who hadn’t taken this treatment.

After three days, around 80 in 100 people who took lozenges felt happier compared to around 60 in 100 people who had the dummy treatment. People who took the lozenges also said they felt less distracted and less frustrated as a result of having a sore throat, compared to those who had the placebo.

How reliable is the research?

This is a good-quality study that shows taking lozenges containing flurbiprofen could help to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat. It also shows there is a link between taking these types of lozenges and having immediate pain relief from a sore throat.

But this is a small study, which means its results are not as reliable as if a large group of people had taken part in the research.

Researchers relied on people reporting how much pain they were experiencing, which could have affected their findings. The study also does not show whether the amount of lozenges people took made a difference to reducing their symptoms.

What does this mean for me?

This study suggests taking lozenges containing flurbiprofen could help to reduce your symptoms if you have a sore throat. It also seems to show that taking these sorts of lozenges can help you feel better quickly.

If you have a sore throat there are also other remedies you can use to help you feel more comfortable while your body fights off the infection, such as drinking tea with honey or lemon.

While sore throats are common, if you are having severe symptoms, or if they last for more than a few weeks you should see your GP.

Published on February 01, 2013

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