Zicam Nose Spray Can Kill Your Sense of Smell-Disputed!

Zicam Nose Spray Can Kill Your Sense of Smell-Disputed!

Summary of eRumor:

The writer of the email says she had a bad experience with Zicam nose spray for colds.  She felt an immediate reaction after using it and realized that the result was that she lost all sense of taste or smell.  She says she found stories of other people on the Internet who also lost the ability to smell because of Zircam.  She warns not to use it and also includes a website of a law firm handling personal injury cases about Zircam.

The Truth:

We don’t know whether this particular first-hand account is true but the concerns about Zircam are not fabricated.

Zicam is the brand name of products from Matrixx Initiatives.  The company promotes its Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel by saying that it shortens your cold.  Their website says it will “…help you get over your cold three times faster.”  Matrixx has several other Zicam products for both adults and children that are for flu, allergies, congestion, and sinus problems.

Concerns about whether Zicam might be causing a loss of smell began accumulating in 2004.  Zicam contains a form of zinc (zinc gluconate) and medical researchers pointed to the 1930’s when another form of zinc (zinc sulfate) was used nasally in an attempt to protect from polio.  One of the results was that some users lost their sense of smell.  Matrixx countered by saying that the two forms of zinc should not be equated.   The anti-polio products had concentrated forms of the sulfate which, according to Matrixx, reacted with water to create a strong acid.  The gluconate in their product, said Matrixx, is a weak organic salt that dissolves into a “…naturally occurring, non toxic compound found in all human tissue.”

Matrixx had strongly denied that Zicam destroys the sense of smell and taste and when contacted by TruthOrFiction.com about this story sent us a summary of a two-day meeting of its Scientific Advisory Board in September, 2004.  It said, “was the unanimous opinion of the Scientific Advisory Board that the cumulative scientific evidence does not support the contention that Zicam® Cold Remedy zinc gluconate nasal gel is associated with disorders of smell.”   The panel concluded that a loss of smell is most commonly associated with the common cold, sinusitis, and nasal injury and that there are statistically significant associations between the pernament loss of smell and numerous other medical conditions and multiple classes of drugs.  In other words, the board felt that there was not enough evidence in the midst of all those other factors to pinpoint Zicam as the culprit.

Nonetheless, the lawsuits kept coming and in January, 2006, Matrixx, without admitting any fault, settled a class action lawsuit with 340 people for nearly $12 million.

As of this writing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not looked into the Zicam complaints.

Updated 10/27/06