Zinc lozenges may shorten common-cold duration

Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

For treating the common cold, zinc lozenges are dissolved slowly in the mouth. Interest in zinc lozenges started in the early 1980s from the serendipitous observation that a cold of a young girl with rapidly disappeared when she dissolved a therapeutic zinc tablet in her mouth instead of swallowing it. Since then over a dozen studies have been carried out to find out whether zinc lozenges are effective, but the results of those studies have diverged.

Dr. Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki, Finland, carried out a meta-analysis of all the placebo-controlled trials that have examined the effect of zinc lozenges on natural common cold infections. Of the 13 trial comparisons identified, five used a total daily zinc dose of less than 75 mg and uniformly those five comparisons found no effect of zinc. Three trials used zinc acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, with the average indicating a 42% reduction in the duration of colds. Five trials used zinc salts other than acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, with the average indicating a 20% decrease in the duration of colds.

In several studies, zinc lozenges caused adverse effects, such as bad taste, but there is no evidence that zinc lozenges might cause long term harm. Furthermore, in the most recent trial on zinc acetate lozenges, there were no significant differences between the zinc and placebo groups in the occurrence of adverse effects although the daily dose of zinc was 92 mg. Dr. Hemila concluded that "since a large proportion of trial participants have remained without , zinc lozenges might be useful for them as a for the ."

More information: Hemila H: Zinc Lozenges May Shorten the Duration of Colds: a Systematic Review, The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal 2011;5:51-58 dx.doi.org/10.2174/1874306401105010051

Provided by University of Helsinki

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Zinc lozenges an ineffective treatment for colds

Aug 02, 2007

Despite 20 years of research, the benefits of zinc lozenges as a therapy for the common cold have not been proven. A new study, published in the Sept. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, currently available online, review ...

Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold

Feb 16, 2011

Zinc supplements reduce the severity and duration of illness caused by the common cold, according to a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The findings could help reduce the amount of time lost from work a ...

Childhood diarrhea: Treat with zinc over 6 months of age

Jul 16, 2008

Zinc supplementation benefits children suffering from diarrhoea in developing countries, but only in infants over six months old, Cochrane Researchers have found. Their study supports World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines ...

Adequate zinc eases pneumonia in elderly

Aug 10, 2010

A high proportion of nursing facility residents were found to have low serum (blood) zinc concentrations during an observational study funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Aging. ...

Recommended for you

WHO: Mali case may have infected many people

3 minutes ago

The World Health Organization says a toddler who brought Ebola to Mali was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected many people.

Two US nurses are declared cured of Ebola

1 hour ago

Two American nurses were declared cured of Ebola on Friday, and one was healthy enough to leave hospital and make plans to meet President Barack Obama.

User comments