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Over The Counter Cold Spray Controversy

Mar 25, 2004 | HealthNews

Could an over the counter cold spray cause you permanent damage? The growing controversy and why some doctors are concerned.

The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing the safety of Zinc nasal sprays taken to ease the symptoms of the common cold. The products in question are Zicam and COLD-EEZE® cold remedy nasal gels and sprays.

Jackie Stevens, who is an employee here, took on those drugs and now doctors say she could end up losing her sense of smell forever.

Four weeks ago, Jackie Stevens took a dose of COLD-EEZE® nasal spray. She felt severe burning in her nose. She now says she can't smell a single scent and her sense of taste is impaired, too.

Jackie - a stage manager and assistant director here at ABC7 says the loss affects every aspect of her life. She can't enjoy food - and she's also worried she can't smell dangerous warning smells like smoke or gas.

Dr. Weisman suspects a cause and effect relationship between zinc nasal sprays and loss of smell.

It binds to the tissues inside the nose and helps prevent cold viruses from penetrating.

The FDA reviewing consumer complaints, but officials from Quigley Corporation, which makes COLD-EEZE® and Matrixx Initiatives the makers of Zicam - say in their own clinical studies no patients experienced a loss of sense of smell or taste.

In a statement Matrixx says:

Reports alleging anosmia or loss of smell in a small number of patients using zinc gluconate intranasal gels for the treatment of the common cold are completely unfounded and misleading.

We asked the makers of COLD-EEZE® the product Jackie Stevens took to respond, as well. They say:

Considering that thousands of people lose their sense of smell temporarily and permanently from the common cold, and that COLD-EEZE® Nasal Spray is a product for the common cold, people may erroneously conclude a cause and effect relationship despite the fact that there is no scientific link. Dr. Weissman still urges consumers to be cautious.

Jackie is being treated with steroids and vitamin therapy, but doctors say it could be months before she sees any improvement, if any.

Dr. Weissman says the zinc nasal products should be not be confused with decongestant or anti-inflammatory sprays like Afrin or Flonase.

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