The study revealed that patients who received the zinc lozenges showed a threefold increase in recovery than those in the placebo group. According to the research team, the treatment's effect was not modified by certain factors such as age, sex, race, and allergy as well as smoking or baseline common cold severity. The results showed that 70 percent of patients in the zinc group recovered from common cold during the fifth day of treatment, compared with only 27 percent in the placebo group. In addition, nearly three times more patients in the zinc group were cured of the disease compared with those who took a placebo.
"The three-fold increase in the rate of recovery from the common cold is a clinically important effect. The optimal formulation of zinc lozenges and an ideal frequency of their administration should be examined. Given the evidence of efficacy, common cold patients may be instructed to try zinc acetate lozenges within 24 hours of onset of symptoms," the researchers wrote.
A number of studies have previously demonstrated the efficacy of zinc lozenges in keeping common colds in check. A meta-analysis published in BMC Family Practice revealed that zinc lozenges were able to improve seven respiratory symptoms and three systemic symptoms in patients. According to the research team, zinc acetate lozenges were able to shorten the duration of nasal discharge by 34 percent, nasal congestion by 37 percent, and sneezing by 22 percent. The study also showed that the treatment limited the duration of scratchy throat by 33 percent, sore throat by 18 percent, and hoarseness by 43 percent. In addition, the treatment was found to shorten the duration of cough and muscle ache by 46 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
"The effect of zinc acetate lozenges on cold symptoms may be associated with the local availability of zinc from the lozenges, with the levels being highest in the pharyngeal region. However our findings indicate that the effects of zinc ions are not limited to the pharyngeal region. There is no indication that the effect of zinc lozenges on nasal symptoms is less than the effect on the symptoms of the pharyngeal region, which is more exposed to released zinc ions. Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80 mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24 hours, for a time period of less than two weeks," the research team concluded.
Another analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that zinc lozenges, tablets and syrups may shorten the duration of colds by an average of a day or more when taken within 24 hours after symptoms such as runny nose or sore throat manifest. In addition, a report published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases showed that taking zinc lozenges may help cut the duration of colds from seven days to four days, and reduce coughing from five days to two days. However, the review's lead author cautioned that a consensus on zinc dosage should be in place. (Related: Keep common colds and flu in check with these natural remedies.)
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