Can Zinc make my cold go away faster???

I know that it is the season for colds, especially in New England where we have had some strange weather patterns where it has been unseasonably warm, then cold, and flipping back and forth.  People are getting sick with colds, and being this close to the holiday season, we want to kick those colds and feel better fast!  Who has time to be sick?  Not me!  But do the zinc cold medications, such as Zicam, that supposedly “cure” colds, really make you feel better sooner?

Do Zinc Cold Treatments Work?
The main ingredient in Zinc Cold Treatments (i.e. Zicam) is Zinc Gluconate, and is just the same zinc that you would take as part of a vitamin or dietary supplement.  For years there have been conflicting studies whether zinc does help colds or not, and many people feel very strongly that it was all placebo effect why some people felt better with zinc and some didn’t.  There have been a couple of recent analyses of numerous different studies, and they show that zinc might actually be beneficial in the treatment of cold symptoms, when taken within the first 24 hours of noticing symptoms of a cold. How zinc actually works on the body to shorten cold times is truly unknown, but currently being studied.  Many HCP’s are hesitant to suggest that people take zinc supplementation within the first 24 hours of cold symptoms only because the exact dosage needed is unknown, and there are some bad side effects that can occur with too much zinc.  But, studies have shown that the supplementation can shorten cold time.  Pretty exciting, right?

Are There Any Negative Effects?
And, just like many OTC (over-the-counter) treatments it is not FDA approved, and the nasally inhaled treatments are actually not at all supported by the FDA, and are banned in many placed due to side effects.  In high doses, people report anosmia (loss of smell) which can cause altered tasting ability, from zinc supplementation (either taken orally in high doses or intranasally), and many times the sense of smell does not return, it can be permanent.  Although more likely with intranasal zinc, oral supplementation and lozenges can cause the same results.  In numerous studies, due to the filmy feeling that zinc lozenges can leave in your mouth, many study participants reported feeling nausea.  One other thing to point out is that zinc can alter the absorption of antibiotics and other medications in the stomach, so you just need to be aware if you take daily medications, so you should always ask your HCP before starting any supplementation!

So What Should I Do To Treat a Cold?
-Get lots of rest
-Drink fluids (water, coconut water, ginger ale, really whatever you can put in!)
-Try eating/drinking soups and hot teas (and other beverages), the steam can help with a stuffy nose
-Salt water gargles can help with a sore throat
-Saline drops should be used in dry eyes  and saline nasal sprays should be used for dry nasal passages
-Try some spicy foods to remedy a stuffy nose (but be ready with tissues!!!)
-You can take zinc supplements (such as lozenges) but be careful not to overdo it, less is more!  But please make sure to check with your HCP for any interactions with other medications you might be taking

I hope that you don’t get afflicted with the common cold, but if you do, try zinc lozenges, try these tips, but most most of all get some rest!!  So many people stress themselves out around the holiday season with shopping, traveling, having company, etc. make sure if you feel like you are getting sick, take some time for yourself to help your body heal!

Yours in Good Health

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