Zinc For the Common Cold Can Cause Nausea as a Side Effect

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Sneezing is a common symptom of a cold. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zinc can reduce the duration of your cold, but is the cure worse than the disease? Zinc side effects can be just as uncomfortable as the sniffles you’re trying to cut short.

Adults can come down with two to four colds a year, according to the American Lung Association. Colds are highly contagious, and generally last for a week, but can last longer in those with compromised immune systems. There is no cure for the common cold – we currently only have over-the-counter-medications to help relieve symptoms. In some studies, however, taking zinc has been found to decrease the duration of a cold. In a new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers examine the effectiveness of oral zinc to reduce the duration of cold symptoms, as well as the adverse effects of taking zinc.

Zinc For Colds: Adverse Effects

A new study by Dr. Michelle Science and her colleagues examined previous studies in which people with colds were either given zinc or a placebo pill. In Dr. Science’s study, they found 17 trials involving 2,121 people. Dr. Science found that those taking the zinc had a shorter duration of cold symptoms than those who took the placebo pill, but those who took the zinc reported adverse effects such as a bad taste in their mouth and nausea. Dr. Science also found that there was not a significant decrease in the duration of a cold in children who used the zinc treatment.

Interview with Dr. Science

Decoded Science had the oppotunity to interview Dr. Michelle Science about the side effects of zinc. Dr. Science told us:

“We found that side-effects including bad taste and nausea were more common with participants receiving zinc. We also looked at other side-effects including diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain and found no differences between the two groups. There were no serious adverse events reported in any of the trials.”

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