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Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, which thrives and multiplies in the nasal passages and throat (upper respiratory system). Zinc may work by preventing the rhinovirus from multiplying. It may also stop the rhinovirus from lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.
While some studies show some help for colds from zinc lozenges and nasal sprays, the results are inconsistent. More research is needed. Zinc's side effects, especially when nasal sprays or gels are used, may outweigh benefits, which may be slight, at best.
Enter zinc: a mineral that's *said* to cut the length of your cold in half and/or help prevent colds. If zinc for colds sounds too good to be true, that's because there's a good chance it is.
Zinc is often touted as a way to fight colds. But while research suggests it does work, there are some caveats. But while research suggests it may work, there are some things to know before trying it.
How Does Zinc Shorten a Cold’s Duration? “Most colds,” Boehmer explains, “are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, which thrives and multiplies in the upper respiratory system. Zinc may work by preventing the rhinovirus from multiplying. It may also stop the rhinovirus from lodging in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.”
In the latest review, on zinc for the common cold, researchers Meenu Singh and Rashmi R. Das pooled the results of 13 studies that tested zinc for treating colds. By their analysis, taking zinc within 24 hours of first noticing the signs of a cold could shorten the cold by one day. They also found that taking zinc made colds a bit less severe.