Valerie Burrow doesn't just get fever, aches and cough when she gets a cold. She says, "Every time I've gotten a cold in my life it has turned into a full blown sinus infection where I have to come back to the doctor for a z-pack."
The last time she went to the doctor with a cold, he recommended – not medicine – but zinc lozenges.
"I was a little skeptical that these zinc lozenges would work but they were truly amazing," says Burrow, "Not only did they shorten the duration of my cold but they shortened the severity. Even though I felt bad it was the mildest cold I've ever had."
More and more doctors are now recommending zinc lozenges for colds instead of other medicines or even Vitamin C.
"It (the common cold) can last from ten to 14 days. It's what we call ‘self-limited,' which means it will go away itself with time," says Dr. Cary Finn, and internal medicine doctor with Baptist Memorial Hospital. He says he's now recommending zinc lozenges to his patients, saying it in fact shortens the length of a cold.
Finn adds, "It's been proven to be more effective with children, but it can help with adults as well."
Not only does it cut the duration of colds, it cuts the cost people spend on colds. Typically when diagnosed with a cold, doctors could give you a steroid injection; that and the appointment run approximately $100. They may prescribe a z-pack, which adds that's another $50 dollars. Getting zinc lozenges instead costs around $7.
"Plus I was back to work sooner, back to my normal activities, so it was extremely helpful," says Burrow.
The misconception about zinc lozenges is that it supercharges the immune system. Doctors say, instead, it stops the development of the cold.
"We don't know which viruses cause which common cold, but Rhino is one of the viruses that typically will do it, and they think it stops how long it will stay with you," says Finn.
Doctors say just like with a lot of things, you don't want to take too much zinc; it could lead to permanent loss of smell. So Finn says take only one zinc lozenge every two hours while awake for only five days.