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During the winter season, when you feel a cold coming on, how many times have you run to the pharmacy and grabbed the first cold remedy off the shelf? If it was a certain Zicam cold remedy – pay attention! Over the summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently advised consumers not to use certain over-the-counter Zicam cold remedies commonly available in pharmacies nationwide, as they have been linked to the loss of sense of smell. The products are:

  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (an already discontinued product)

The loss of sense of smell, known as anosmia, may be long-lasting or permanent. The FDA has received more than 130 reports of loss of sense of smell associated with the use of these three Zicam products. Of these reports, many people experienced a loss of smell with the first dose, while others reported a loss of the sense of smell after multiple uses of the products.

People who experience a loss of sense of smell should contact their health care professional immediately. The FDA has issued a warning letter to the maker of these Zicam products, telling it that the products cannot be marketed without FDA approval. Loss of sense of smell is a serious side effect for a product meant for relief from minor cold symptoms, and the maker of Zicam needs to be held accountable.

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