As the common cold season wanes once again, it is important to identify effective treatment strategies to curb infections that will likely afflict all of us in the near future. A recent meta-analysis published in the BMC Family Practice journal shows that high dose zinc acetate lozenges reduce nasal discharge, nasal congestion, scratchy throat, and cough caused by common cold viruses.
Zinc lozenges work by releasing zinc ions into the saliva of the pharyngeal region where common cold viruses tend to replicate most frequently. High dose zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of scratchy throat by 33%, sore throat by 18%, hoarseness by 43%, and cough by 46%. The mechanism by which zinc alleviates the common cold would presumably act most effectively on symptoms associated with the pharyngeal region like sore throat; however, this study found an equally powerful effect on other symptoms, including reduced duration of nasal discharge (34%), nasal congestion (37%), and sneezing (22%).
The authors conclude that doses of roughtly 80 mg/day of zinc acetate lozenges started within 24 hours of symptom onset may be an effective treatment for the common cold.