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.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 8:34 AM