Do Medicines Containing Zinc Really Prevent Common Flu Like Illness?

Zinc is an important trace nutrient in humans that plays a part in the immune system. Respiratory tract infections are common and yield a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Occasionally, the symptoms are mild, but in some cases, they are severe. Respiratory infections can grow due to bacteria or viruses and include influenza, the common cold, and COVID-19. Researchers are continually inspecting treatment choices that could control the symptoms, shorten their duration, or stop them completely. A current study reports that taking zinc might shorten the duration of respiratory tract infection and probably prevent them.

What does zinc do?

Zinc take part in the immune system and plays a role in a range of different functions, including:

  • cell division and growth
  • wound healing
  • sense of smell and taste
  • breakdown of carbohydrates
  • enhancement of insulin action

Foods that contain zinc include oysters, red meat, chicken, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. Multivitamins often comprise zinc. It is also accessible in nasal sprays and gels and some cold lozenges. But investigators are still trying to regulate the benefits of taking zinc as a supplement. Some experts focus on how zinc might defend against viral infections.

Zinc and infections

The learning in question is a quick systematic review and meta-analysis that was based on randomized controlled trials. The investigators identified studies that:

  • involved adults who were at risk of or had viral respiratory tract infections
  • analyzed the practice of zinc via any dose, route, or period
  • measured exact results, for example the incidence of respiratory tract infections and symptom severity.

Besides, they precisely excluded studies that looked at zinc as a treatment with other medication involvements. 

The examination had mixed results. For instance, the researchers found that:

  • using oral or intranasal zinc prohibited respiratory tract infections in some individuals
  • indications of respiratory tract infections resolved about a couple of days earlier in individuals taking sublingual or intranasal zinc, compared with palliative.
  • Taking zinc assisted in reducing symptom severity on the third day of symptoms.

Restrictions and continuing research

It is of note that this research on zinc to prevent respiratory infections had some limits. Foremost, the investigators point out that some of the studies had a potential for bias. Subsequently, this specific analysis was a fast analysis, meaning that few tasks were finalized by only one reviewer. This upsurges the risk of error in analysis. Lastly, the author’s message that none of the lessons were exactly about individuals who had COVID-19 and that more study is essential to control whether taking zinc could help reduce the symptoms of COVID-19.

It is understood that we are now well into the pandemic and rapidly learning that a lot of therapies that have worked for other viral infections don’t essentially work for COVID-19. We cannot accept the results from these zinc studies to apply to COVID-19. Nevertheless, the outcomes indicate that zinc may be helpful for individuals who have respiratory tract infections.