Before we know more about Zinc and other home remedies for cold let us see more about cold.
What is common Cold?
The common cold is a self-limited contagious illness that can be caused by a number of different types of viruses. The common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms of the common cold may include cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold, with rhinovirus causing approximately 30%-35% of all adult colds. Other commonly implicated viruses include coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and par influenza virus. Because so many different viruses can cause a cold and because new cold viruses constantly develop, the body never builds up resistance against all of them. For this reason, colds are a frequent and recurring problem. In fact, children in preschool and elementary school can have six to 12 colds per year while adolescents and adults typically have two to four colds per year. The common cold occurs most frequently during the fall and winter months.
The common cold is the most frequently occurring illness in the world, and it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. It is estimated that individuals in the United States suffer 1 billion colds per year, with approximately 22 million days of school absences recorded annually.
What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
Many people confuse the common cold with influenza (the flu). Influenza is caused by the influenza virus, while the common cold generally is not. While some of the symptoms of the common cold and influenza may be similar, patients with the common cold typically have a milder illness. Patients with influenza usually appear more ill and have a more abrupt onset of illness with fever, chills, headache, substantial muscle and body aches, dry cough, and extreme weakness.
Though differentiating between the common cold and influenza can be difficult, there is laboratory testing available to confirm the diagnoses of influenza.
Zinc supplements can reduce the severity of the common cold and help people recover faster, say the authors of a new review. A review on the ability of zinc to prevent and treat colds published in 1999 was inconclusive. This new paper, published in The Cochrane Library — a key resource for evidence-based medicine — includes an additional eight studies, bringing the total number of analyzed trials to 15 and number of participants to 1360.
Dr. Meenu Singh and Dr. Rashmi Das from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, found patients who received zinc supplements within 24 hours of cold symptoms appearing and who continued to take them for a minimum of five days were more likely to recover within a week than those given placebos.
They also found, zinc given to healthy children as a preventative measure, reduced the number of colds and days absent from school. There was also a reduction in antibiotic use.
Associate Professor Luis Vitetta, director of the Centre for integrative clinical and molecular medicine at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland, Australia, says the data chosen for the review was well considered and the authors had enough data to ensure the findings are statistically significant. "They've chosen the right studies with appropriate controls and which are randomized in order to be able to come to these conclusions," says Vitetta. There's no proven treatment for the common cold. Symptoms may include a sore throat, a blocked or runny nose, and a cough, and last up to two weeks. "In Australia, healthy adults have four to five colds per year, susceptible people may have one to two a month and children two to three a year," he says. "And then you have secondary illnesses, such as bacterial infections, which require antibiotics."
More to be done
The studies included in the review used different formulations of zinc and were given as lozenges, syrup or, in one trial, as a tablet. "It would be interesting to know if there any differences between these formulations in terms of bioavailability," says Vitetta. "Zinc is an essential mineral in the body and it is used in hundreds of reactions. While zinc has a plausible biological mechanism in terms of influencing the progression or establishment of a cold by way of eliciting an immune response, I'd now be asking what dose is required." Professor Emeritus Bob Douglas, of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University, an author of one of the trials included in the meta-analyses and a former Cochrane review editor, says preventing and treating colds has been a very contentious question for a long time. "This is a very interesting finding. I don't think the effect is huge, but it's substantial," says Douglas. "I'd be doing a lot more trials, particularly in different population groups."
Singh acknowledges not much is known about the optimum dose, formulation or length of zinc treatment and that the review only looked at supplementation in healthy people in high-income countries. "It would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold," he says. Singh and Das also say that more work needs to be carried out in low-income countries, where zinc deficiency may be prevalent.
Zinc is an important mineral most people do not get enough of every day. Taking a good zinc supplement is a good way to prevent a condition called zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency, if not treated, can often result in slowing wound repair, limiting brain function, hair loss, and diarrhea and skin lesions. If you are not getting enough zinc in your diet, taking a good zinc supplement is in order, especially since your body cannot produce zinc on its own.
Zinc Food Sources
Zinc is a mineral that comes in many food sources, including fortified breakfast cereals, seafood, red meats, whole grains and brewer’s yeast. If you are unable to maintain a good balanced diet to include some of these items, it is essential to take a good zinc supplement to maintain good health.
If you already take a good multivitamin daily, it may be unnecessary for you to take a zinc supplement; too much zinc can be just as dangerous as not getting enough, therefore it is advised for you to talk with your health care provider. Have the proper test run to determine what, if any, zinc supplements you should be taking.
Types of Zinc Supplements
There are several types of zinc supplements, some better than others, that can be purchased most anywhere. Some types of zinc supplements include:
•zinc sulfate (which can cause stomach irritation)
•amino acid chelates of zinc (which may be a little expensive)
•zinc gluconate (which is a good type)
•topical zinc (used for some mild skin conditions and cold sores)
•zinc oxide (used in some sun block preparations and some creams)
Some types of zinc that are best absorbed include: