NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Zinc acetate lozenges taken within 24 hours of developing symptoms of the common cold reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, according to a report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Previous studies of zinc treatment for common cold symptoms have yielded conflicting results, the authors explain.
Dr. Ananda S. Prasad from Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, and associates investigated the effects of zinc acetate lozenges in treating the common cold in 50 volunteers who had cold symptoms for 24 hours or less. The participants took one zinc acetate lozenge containing 13.3 milligrams of zinc or an inactive "placebo" every 2 to 3 hours while awake.
The average duration of cold symptoms (including cough, runny nose, and muscle ache) was about 4 days in the zinc group compared with 7 in the placebo group, the authors report.
After 4 days, 56 percent of the zinc group had complete resolution of their colds, whereas none of the placebo group was free of cold symptoms. The results of a number of biochemical tests suggested that zinc was having a true effect on the colds. The investigators observed no zinc side effects.
"Zinc acetate preparation, as used in our study, was significantly effective in decreasing the (average) duration of cold symptoms," the authors conclude. "We propose that the beneficial clinical effects seen in the zinc group were due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of zinc."
SOURCE: Journal of Infectious Diseases, March 15, 2008.