Preventing Colds and Shortening Colds

New Study Shows Zinc Lozenges Play Key Role in Preventing Colds and Shortening Colds

Americans get about 1 billion colds each year. That's the bad news. The good news is that science has shown new ways to avoid colds or reduce their severity significantly.

Colds hit most people in the fall and winter, but not because it's cold outside. Researchers at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believe that the cold weather causes us to spend more time indoors, increasing transmission opportunities. Lower humidity during the winter also helps cold-causing viruses to flourish and can dry the lining of the nasal passages, making them more prone to the bug.

Unless you're a hermit, it's pretty hard to avoid contact with cold germs. Now, a new study shows that taking zinc lozenges on a daily basis can significantly reduce the possibility of getting a cold. The study, involving 378 subjects over a total of 170,000 patient days, was published in the November 21, 2002 issue of the American Journal of Therapeutics. The study showed that the incidence of colds was reduced by as much as 62%. The study was conducted at a high school, an environment where colds spread easily.

In a previous study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (7/00) and conducted at the Detroit Medical Center in Michigan, cold duration was effectively cut from 8.1 to 4.5 days by zinc lozenges. The duration of coughs was reduced from 6.3 days for the placebo group to 3.1 days for those using zinc lozenges.

While there has been some controversy over the effectiveness of zinc lozenges, these studies and others from Dartmouth College, the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Texas confirm the lozenges effectiveness. The most productive forms of lozenges use zinc acetate or zinc gluconate. Other forms such as zinc aspartate or zinc citrate may do nothing or, worse, make the cold last longer and the symptoms more severe. Another factor is the use of the correct dosage of 12.8 mg of zinc.

How does zinc work? Zinc ions may interfere with the replication of cold viruses in the throat. But more recent research suggests that zinc may owe its cold-fighting properties to its effect on our immune system, rather than directly on the virus. In either case, the research suggests that zinc lozenge should be taken every two hours at the first sign of a cold or once daily to avert a cold.

Study shows Zinc Lozenges Can Prevent Colds

Zinc Lozenges, taken daily, dramatically reduce the number of colds an individual suffers from, according to a new study. The study, published in the American Nov. 21, 2002 issue of Journal of Therapeutics, involved 378 subjects, and a total of 170,000 patient days.
Highlights of the study include:

  • The incidence of colds was reduced between 62% and 28%.
  • Zinc lozenges also reduce the duration of a cold from 10 days to 6 days.
  • Subjects needed only one zinc lozenge a day to prevent colds.

Several previous studies have demonstrated that zinc lozenges shorten colds. But according to Dr. Betty McElroy, Medical Director of the Heritage School, "Up until now, prevention of the common cold has never been established."

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