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Health Alert: Concerns About Zicam® (advertised cold remedy)
January 19, 2006--Matrixx Initiatives reached a settlement with 340 persons who lost their sense of smell after using Zicam. These cases resolved for $11.9 million plus $100,000 in costs.
Zicam has been associated with the onset of a condition known as anosmia, which leaves the user with a potentially permanent loss of smell and taste. These side effects typically are irreversible. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently is collecting and evaluating reports of severe reactions to Zicam.
Zicam is a popular non-prescription zinc nasal spray. Its manufacturer markets it as a medication to shorten the duration of the common cold.
ABC's Channel 7 in Denver, Colorado brought media attention to the potential side effects of Zicam when it reported on a station employee who lost her sense of smell after using Zicam to treat a cold. The employee was diagnosed with anosmia, resulting in the permanent loss of her sense of smell.
The station received an outpouring of user feedback following its report. ABC-7 reported that within a week of running the story, they already had received 80 reports from people injured by zinc nasal spray. Most of those experiencing serious side effects had used Zicam. The others had used Cold Eeze.
Case History from a concerned reader: I need to warn you about a product on the market and hopefully you will pass it on to as many people as possible. I felt like I was coming down with a cold last Friday and because I'm around sick family members so much I wanted to possibly head it off. I used Zicam. Immediately I had an intense, horrible burning in my nasal/sinus passages. The skin on my face hurt to touch, and I had pain and burning so that it hurt to move my head. My husband was there and kept asking if I wanted to go to the ER, but the thought of getting in a car was overwhelming. My face was burning hot and my nasal passages were so swollen that I couldn't breathe through my nose and I could see the swelling when I looked in the mirror. It lasted for about three hours, and it was Labor Day weekend so I couldn't see a doctor until Tuesday. I have seen two ENT specialists in the last two days because I have lost, totally lost, all ability to taste or smell. They both told me the same thing, suggesting an immediate course of action. This is called "chemical trauma" and most times is permanent. I'm going to have a CT scan on Monday and am on a high dose of the steroid, Prednisone, for two weeks.
If there is even a thread of the olfactory nerve left, it will help to rejuvenate what is left. I have been on the Internet (just put in Zicam) and there are hundreds of people who have had this happen. I am so angry and devastated and saddened right now that I don't know how to get through this. I cannot handle the thought of never tasting food again, or trying a new recipe or smelling a Thanksgiving turkey. Cooking has been an absolute passion of mine for as long as I can remember, and at the moment I don't see the point of even putting dressing on a salad. I keep thinking that this cannot be happening to me. I suck on a lemon, bite down on a clove of garlic, smell a bottle of ammonia, nail polish remover - anything. I'm starting by warning people I love. PLEASE don't use Zicam, tell your friends.
Dr. Hull's Comments:
Consumers want to believe if the FDA approves a product, that product is unquestionably safe. Please research my articles and my books on diet sweeteners to learn that the FDA approval process is, indeed, flawed by corporate influence and investment dollars. Keeping people ill is a moneymaker.
The best way to prevent and treat a cold is through wholesome nutrition. Step-up your vitamin C intake during cold and flu season, research natural homeopathic cold remedies, and use old-fashioned warm salt water to open a stuffy nose.
Posted November 2006 | Permanent Link
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