Can zinc help shorten a cold?

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
You're sneezing and sniffling -- can zinc bring relief? In this video, I will tell you what you need to know.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
When people get sick with the common cold, they will reach for any and all medicine to get rid of it -- from cold and flu medicine to cough drops. Zinc lozenges help to get rid of colds quickly and efficiently. Studies have shown that zinc gluconate lozenges not only shorten the duration of the common cold, but they’re more effective than vitamin C in treating it. A bag of these lozenges is only about $8 and you can take 3 to 4 per day. Plus, one bag of lozenges will cost a lot less than a cocktail of other medications.
If you use zinc lozenges or syrup soon after feeling the symptoms of a cold, you may see some benefits.

In a review of 15 controlled trials, zinc lozenges or syrup were shown to help reduce the duration and severity of colds in healthy people, when consumed within the first 24 hours of the first sniffle. 

But there is a catch: those taking zinc lozenges may experience nausea and a bad aftertaste in their mouth. 

More research is needed to determine the correct dosage and usage for the general population, especially those with chronic illnesses. Check with your health care provider before you pop a lozenge or take a dose of zinc syrup.

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