Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zinc Supplements and Loss of Smell

The FDA has received reports of more than 130 cases of anosmia (loss of smell) in consumers who used the following zinc-containing products: Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs, and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs (kids size). There is published evidence that Zinc salts can harm olfactory (smell) function and the manufacturer has received over 800 complaints of anosmia in users.

The FDA has issued an advisory for people to stop using these products. They have never been proven to be of benefit anyway for colds or flu. The makers of Zicam sponsored a study that showed it cut cold symptoms in half. Those findings have not been confirmed or reproduced. A review of 105 studies done showed no beneficial effect of Zinc on colds.

Loss of smell is a very serious problem. As one of our main senses, smell affects our ability to taste food and many people with anosmia lose the pleasure of eating.

Colds make you pretty miserable, but permanent loss of smell is too big a price to pay for using a product that has not been proven to work.


LTC said...

As a pharmacist at Medicine Shoppe, I am not surprised that yet again, a wonder cure turns out to have major side effects. I hope the FDA has a broader mandate to regulate health products before they appear on pharmacy shelves. Some products shouldn't be over-the-counter at all.

CountryMidwife said...

Jeesh. I think as an ever-struggling-with-weight person, loss of the pleasure of eating might only be a good thing. I must go get me some zinc.

But seriously, once to fend off a virus I took hefty doses of Vit C, ecchinacea, and zinc all together. The belly pain that resulted was almost as bad as my appendecitis, I'm not kidding. HORRIBLE. I am terrified of zinc since then... and apparently, with cause.

Folks... Eat heathy. Be happy. Rest. Sweat a few times a week. Maybe take a simple multivitamin. You'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

Great! More lawyers get rich and the general population suffers. This is about making million$ suing a successful pharmaceutical company and not about protecting the public.

Speaking from personal experience: Zicam works! But now I am suffering with a cold while rich tort attorneys suntan in the Caribbean.

Welcome to the future of health care people. Elect democrats and you get crapped on.

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I think every person ought to read it.

Ed said...

I found yesterday that I have lost the sense of smell. While trying to smell some scented oils I could not smell anything. I thought that using Zicam throat melt aways would be ok and I was using less than the prescribed amounts! The product did work, and the onset of the sore throat ceased, but now no smell. Thought I was safer but apparently not.

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