June 19, 2009
Posted: 12:07 PM ET
This story has caught a lot of people's attention: the Food and Drug Administration wants people to stop using three different Zicam products. They are Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs, and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size. The reason is that these over-the-counter homeopathic remedies might come with a pretty significant side effect called anosmia, or the loss of smell, and in some cases, the loss of taste, for long periods of time, sometimes even permanently. The products are all intra-nasal, meaning they are put directly in to a person's nose. Lots of people swear by them but when you are dealing with cold or allergy smptoms, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Here are some tips:
Power of Zinc? Zinc is a popular homeopathic medicine and it is one of the chief components of Zicam. But how it actually affects the common cold is up for debate. While many people believe it weakens the severity of symptoms, solid data does not support that claim. If you are someone who believes zinc helps you deal with having a cold, consider eating a diet rich in foods including oysters, beans, nuts, poultry, crab and lobster, all of which are packed with zinc. If you want to take supplements, stick to proper doses of oral or lozenge forms. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the supplements you are taking in case they interfere with other medications. And if you experience any pain or loss of function, stop immediately.
Prevention is key Prevention is the first step to good health. Since a cold cannot be cured, the best way to manage its symptoms is to avoid having a cold in the first place. Regular sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet will keep your immune system strong. Aim for eating several different-colored foods to make sure your plate is full of a variety of nutrients. Make sure you wash your hands frequently, before you eat and after you leave a public area like a mall or a gym. And finally, quit smoking. Doctors say it all the time because it's true: Quitting smoking really is the best way to improve your health!
Be sure to tune in to Dr. Sanjay Gupta every weekend on HOUSE CALL. You'll find the answers to your medical questions Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET on CNN.
Posted by: Dr. Sanjay Gupta - CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
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