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Suck on this to stop sniffling sooner: Zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of the common cold, a recent meta-analysis from Finland concluded.
The researchers determined that taking 80 to 92 milligrams of zinc a day cut the length of the average 7-day cold by 3 full days.
That might be because zinc is known to reduce replication of the cold virus, says Murray Grossan, M.D., an ear, nose and throat otolaryngologist with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
As a result, the virus doesn’t survive as long in your body, allowing you to feel better sooner.
Want to give it a shot? Here’s what to do.
Start taking the zinc lozenges as soon as you begin to notice cold symptoms: Zinc may also block a certain protein that serves as the cold virus’s portal of entry to your body, says Dr. Grossan.
That means fewer virus units may be entering your body—and zinc works best when those numbers are lower, he says.
In fact, the patients in the study had colds for less than 24 hours before they began treatment.
Space your lozenges throughout the day, taking no more than 80 to 100 milligrams (mg) total, says lead study author Harri Hemila, M.D., Ph.D.
Exceeding that limit could cause nausea and upset stomach, says Dr. Grossan.
Let the lozenges dissolve as slowly as possible in your mouth. This allows the zinc ions to stay in the middle of your throat for longer, which will have an anti-inflammatory effect, says Dr. Grossan. That can help soothe a sore throat.
If you’re still bothered by cold symptoms while you’re taking your zinc lozenges, you can supplement with other treatment, too, says Ted Epperly, M.D., program director and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho. Try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to treat fever or muscles aches, he recommends.