Product Type: Lemsip in Health Therapies / Treatments
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To Breathe or Not to Breathe...
Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Breathe Easy
Member Name: mattygroves10
Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Breathe Easy
Advantages: Hot drink soothes the throat
Disadvantages: Tastes unpleasant, works no better than individual medicines. Relatively expensive
Because hot drinks do help, by their very hotness, to soothe a sore throat, one preparation I often have to hand is Lemsip. Last time I had a cold, the Lemsip that happened to be in our kitchen drawer was Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Breathe Easy. Well, this confused me. Even 'normal' Lemsip is for colds and flu, and given that all the Lemsip products have decongestant (in this case 12.2mg of Phenylephrine hydrochloride - the kind you can't make methamphetamine out of) and painkillers (1000mg of paracetamol) in them, I wondered what makes this stuff 'breathe easy'.
In addition to the medically active ingredients and a slug of Vitamin C, there is also 'menthol flavour'. This gives the already bitter tasting Lemsip a sharp tang, as if you're sucking a cough sweet. I had the lemon/menthol flavour. I don't usually mind the flavour of Lemsip (I know many people hate it) - it is artificial tasting, and bitter, due to the natural bitter taste of the medicines (which they try to cover with aspartame and saccharin), but normally, I quite like it, in a sickbed comforting kind of way. However, the addition of the menthol makes what a palatable, albeit medicinal preparation, rather disgusting. The menthol isn't strong enough to even give the illusion that the menthol is clearing your nose; it just adds a rather unpalatable after taste.
Of course, you don't tend to take cold remedies for the taste explosion or culinary delight. No, you take them to relieve your cold symptoms. I'm not really sure why I stick with Lemsip (especially if I'm not in a position to spike it with whiskey). Yes, there is a good dose of Paracetamol to kill pain and reduce fever (though I rarely get fever), however, I find ibuprofen to be a more effective painkiller. There is a decongestant in there as well, but I find Sudafed with Pseudoephedrine (the stuff you CAN apparently make methamphetamine from) far more effective to relieve my blocked nose. The warmth of the drink does soothe a sore throat, but a hot honey and lemon drink would do the same and far more cheaply (a box of 10 sachets will set you back online between £2.50 and £5.00 (Boots charge £4.84) and a box of five between £1.50 - £2.00). Nonetheless, I do find myself trotting to the shop (or schlepping, depending on how awful I feel) for a box of Lemsip every time. I bring sachets to work, boil the kettle...think about waiting for the water to cool slightly as per the instructions, but usually don't bother, empty the contents of the sachet (a fine yellow powder) into my mug, pour water over the powder, sweeten (with honey if I have it, more sweetener if I don't) and gingerly sip (and then wince in pain as it burns my mouth). It does relieve the pain of a sore throat for a couple of hours (nothing like the four to six hours it says to leave between doses), though it's not very good for unblocking my nose. I ruefully have to admit that I've been using a product for some years that I cannot, in good conscience, recommend. Weird.
Lemsip, despite being a hot drink, is a medication, and comes with all the warnings that you'd expect. The important warning is to remember that it contains a fair amount (1000 mg) of paracetamol, and so should not be taken with any other paracetamol containing preparations. This includes tablets, Night Nurse or similar or many other cold remedies - do make sure you read the label. Paracetamol can kill, and it causes damage without you noticing (at first). An overdose (even a relatively small one) can cause irreparable liver damage. You may feel fine, as the symptoms of the damage are often delayed.
There are additional warnings - you should ask advice before taking Lemsip (or any other similar medication) if you have a number of conditions, including (and I did not know this) Reynaud's (this causes your fingers and/or toes to become white, dead looking and numb in cold conditions or when the sufferer is under stress - you may guess I am speaking from experience), if you have liver or kidney disease, if you are pregnant, if you have a condition which precludes you from ingesting aspartame, or if you may be diabetic. There are also some medications which can interact with the ingredients in Lemsip - as always, read the label, and ask a health professional if you are uncertain.
Lemsip really isn't the best or most effective cold remedy around, and the 'Breathe Easy' version, which includes menthol, takes what is already (to some) an unpalatable drink and makes it truly unpleasant tasting. You would gain more relief, and probably save a fair amount of money, if you made your own hot lemon and honey drink (with perhaps a couple of cloves, and, if appropriate, a wee dram), and used single-dose medicines (i.e. a pain killer, a decongestant) when needed. I am clearly a masochist, and stupid one at that, as I do persist in buying Lemsip when I'm suffering. However, I shan't be buying the Breathe Easy version again. It's vile.
Summary: Unpleasantly flavoured, marginally effective cold remedy. Stick with honey & lemon
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