A Likely Remedy for Postoperative Sore Throat and Cough – Licorice?!

Next time you’re at the movies and are deciding between Twizzlers and Sno Caps, you may want to choose Twizzlers, especially if you have surgery planned in the near future.

Okay, it’s not that simple, but a new study shows that gargling with a licorice solution before surgery significantly reduces postoperative sore throat and coughing following the removal of an endotracheal tube.

Surveying patients undergoing elective thoracic surgery, which required a double-lumen endotracheal tube, they were instructed to gargle for at least thirty seconds with the licorice compound or sugar water (the solutions were assigned randomly).

After surgery, patients were examined by independent researchers for 30 minutes, 90 minutes, and four hours after their arrival in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU).

In each time frame, the incidence of sore throat and cough when gargling with licorice was significantly less as compared to sugar water. After 30 minutes, the rate was 22% with licorice, 40% with sugar water. At 90 minutes, the sugar water percentage stayed the same while licorice decreased the frequency to 14%. Both rates increased after four hours, although licorice remained relatively low (21%) compared to sugar water (46%).

Daniel Sessler, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Outcomes Research at the Cleveland Clinic, conducted the study in conjunction with a research team based out of the Medical University in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Sessler highlighted the considerable effect the findings can have on post-op recovery, stating, “Licorice gargling is something that is dirt cheap, risk-free, simple to use and has a substantial effect on a very real complication.

“Furthermore, substantial efficacy is now well documented. So, why wouldn’t you use it?”

Somnia Anesthesia

Blog Editor

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