Is zinc really effective in treating cold? Are there any side effects of using zinc as a cold remedy? You will find answers to these queries in this article.
Common cold, as the name suggests, is one of the most common conditions experienced by people. It is fairly common in children and older people and is usually experienced in cold climate or winter season. Common cold is caused due to several reasons; and more commonly by viruses. The symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, throat infection, etc. Common cold caused due to viral infections goes away by itself after a couple of days. It may take 5-7 days for the symptoms to subside completely. However, the doctor may prescribe medications to get rid of the symptoms quickly and lessen the discomfort. Along with the medication, there are also several home remedies that help in treating the symptoms of common cold. Zinc is one such remedy that is used to treat common cold.
Can Zinc Cure Common Cold
Some of the most popular remedies for common cold include the use of salt water for gargling, consuming chicken soup, using nasal sprays, etc. At the same time, people suffering from common cold were advised to have products containing zinc such as lozenges, nasal sprays, gels, etc. as they are also believed to treat common cold. These products and the zinc content in them is believed to reduce the formation of a certain protein on which the cold causing virus thrives. Therefore, having zinc containing products help in reducing the symptoms of common cold. Similarly, studies have also proved that having zinc reduced the total duration of zinc.
On the other hand, certain studies have also shown that there is no effect or change in the symptoms even on having zinc. There was hardly any difference in the symptoms on taking zinc or sugar pills. Hence, another set of studies show that zinc has no effect on the cold symptoms and hence, is an ineffective remedy. Therefore, when talking about the effectiveness of zinc for treating cold, we observe that there are mixed results. As the exact reason why zinc helps in treating common cold are still unknown, it is not popularly used as a remedy today.
Zinc Side Effects
Now along with the effectiveness, there are also potential side effects associated with zinc which cannot be ignored. One of the most common zinc side effects is bad taste or metallic taste in mouth on consuming zinc containing lozenges. Another serious side effect of zinc is that it can cause a loss of sense of smell. The side effect is usually observed due to long term use of zinc nasal spray and can even lead to a permanent loss of sense of smell. Due to the serious side effect associated with this product, most doctors advise people against using zinc nasal spray.
Similarly, upset stomach, nausea, irritation in the mouth, etc. are some other potential side effects of zinc. Long term usage or consumption of zinc is associated with deficiency of copper. Some people, usually children, may also be sensitive to zinc and may show allergic reaction on using zinc containing products. Therefore, it is not advisable to use zinc supplements and products in case of children.
As a summation of the above, we can conclude that the exact use and effectiveness of zinc as a cold remedy is debatable, due to the mixed study results. Therefore, it is recommended to consult the doctor before using zinc for colds. Lastly, it is always wise to go with the traditional medication or age-old home remedies if you wish to get rid of common cold immediately. Take care!