Health Science

The Truth About the Ability of Meds Like Zicam and Tamiflu to Fight A Cold or The Flu

Is it Worth it to Buy Meds Like Zicam and Tamiflu for Fighting a Cold?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) is a prescribed medication designed to reduce the impact of exposure to influenza virus– the flu – not colds.

Zicam on the other hand is an over the counter zinc based product that purports to reduce the impact of a cold or reduce allergy symptoms. We shall look at both of their claims and how they are supposed to work.common cold

I have used Tamiflu personally, so I do have a bias.
I like the drug, and feel it has worked as advertised with one caveat: the instructions for Tamiflu are to begin taking it upon first exposure to the flu. When I have done this after being in close contact with someone who was rather sick with the flu at the time, I never knew whether Tamiflu worked, as I was never sure if I would have caught the flu. I have had experiences where in spite of exposure to flu, and without any medication, I didn’t contract the flu.

I have also taken the drug when I have had the flu. In all three cases, I felt substantially better within one day, and the flu – or at least its symptoms dissipated completely within two days.

I originally bought Tamiflu when the H1N1 bird flu scare hit the US several years back. Tamiflu is supposed to work by slowing the reproductive abilities of a virus. With it slowed, our own immune system is able to overcome the virus preventing it from gaining the upper hand and us feeling the full impact of the disease.

My thoughts were to protect my family giving them the chance to survive a possible pandemic. Fortunately that day never came – but someday another variance of bird or swine flu will bring a pandemic to the United States and around the world. My suggestion to you – go to the web and read up on the product.

Personally, if your doctor will prescribe it, I’d keep an extra packet in your medicine cabinet. Someday when the next pandemic hits, it may be difficult to get the medicines you need.

As for zinc based cold remedies – do they really work? I do not personally use any zinc based cold remedy. That said, products made from zinc acetate or zinc gluconate are considered to be more effective than other forms of zinc for symptoms-of-common-coldshortening colds. According to research available on line – no one claims to know how or why zinc based products work on rhinovirus – the virus that causes colds. Current speculation is that in some fashion, zinc slows down the reproductive rate of rhinovirus.



According to the NIH – National Institutes of Health website, “numerous case reports of anosmia (loss of the sense of smell), in some cases long-lasting or permanent, have been associated with the use of zinc-containing nasal gels or sprays.”

I love to cook, and I love food. From a previous article you also know I love wine. I don’t think I personally would take the chance of losing or affecting my sense of smell, even though the chance of that happening is small. I will deal with the cold.

That said, I do know others that like the lozenges, and use them.

This following comment comes from WebMD,

“While some studies show some help for colds from zinc lozenges and nasal sprays, the results are inconsistent. More research is needed. Zinc’s side effects, especially when nasal sprays or gels are used, may outweigh benefits, which may be slight, at best.”

Be informed. Read up on the products. My personal thoughts align more with the Latin phrase “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware.

Tell me your thoughts on flu and cold remedies? Do you use them? Do they work for you?

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