A new randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial from the Detroit Medical Center indicates that zinc acetate lozenges improve the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold.
Scientists recruited 50 subjects within 24 hours after they developed symptoms of the common cold. Subjects were randomized to take 1 placebo lozenge or 1 zinc acetate lozenge (12.8 mg zinc acetate) every 2 to 3 hours during the day for as long as they were experiencing symptoms. Each day for 12 days, subjects recorded symptom scores for sore throat, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, scratchy throat, hoarseness, muscle ache, fever, and headache. On day 1 and after subjects recuperated, blood samples were drawn for measuring plasma levels of zinc and certain immune compounds.
The average number of lozenges was 5.8 in the placebo group and 6.2 per day in the zinc group. Compared with the placebo group, subjects taking zinc had a significantly shorter overall duration of cold symptoms (4.5 vs. 8.1 days), of cough (3.1 vs. 6.3 days), and nasal discharge (4.1 vs. 5.8 days). Furthermore, their total symptom severity scores were significantly lower. The only adverse effects that occurred more common in the zinc group were dry mouth and constipation (24% vs. 0%).
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