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The FDA announced today that it is recommending that people stop using all intranasal products made by Zicam that include zinc. They have received over 130 complaints from people who believe they lost their sense of smell after using these products. The FDA recommends that anyone who has any of these products stop using them immediately. They have also sent a letter to Matrixx Initiatives stating that the company cannot market these products without approval and that they do not contain adequate warnings about the risk of the loss of one's sense of smell.

The products included in this warning are:

  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel (15ml)
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs (20 count)
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (20 count)

What Should You Do if You Believe You Lost Your Sense of Smell After Using Zicam?

If you believe your sense of smell was affected by using Zicam, you should contact your healthcare professional. You or your healthcare professional should then contact the FDA either online or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

The FDA believes these products are harmful and could potentially cause permanent loss of the sense of smell. They are especially concerned about this problem in children because it may be more difficult for them to effectively tell someone that the problem has occurred.

There has been ongoing debate about the possibility that Zicam may cause a loss of the sense of smell on this website for several years. It now appears that the FDA is taking these complaints seriously.

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June 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm
(1) Teacher says:

Zicam is a school teacher’s friend in the winter months.

I wouldn’t be surprised if drug companies who sell antibiotics are behind this one.

While a cold and sinus infection are not the same, a cold gone unchecked can turn into a sinus infection often.

I think it is a scam on the part of the drug companies.

June 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm
(2) Scott Hall says:

Why does the response from TEACHER sound so ignorant, as if a single homeopathic “c” list seller would be a target by “all drug companies”. What do you think Zicam is ?! Its also produced and sold by a company, only under the guidelines of a homeopathic drug/medicine. The history of Zicam goes back to 2003 of people having problems with losing sense of smell/taste, including several lawsuits and settlements. I have used Zicam several times without incident until recently when I too experienced a loss of smell and taste. I am shocked to find out afterwards that there have been ongoing questions concerning the risk of losing your sense of smell and yet there are no clear warnings or mention of this anywhere in the packaging or drug interaction/directions. I have always followed the directions and assumed that as a mineral product it would be safe. But even being a cautious consumer and reading/following the directions, I am now suffering fom a loss of smell and taste (completely) since I used the nasal gel 1 week ago. I don’t know why anytime there is an issue with a product, the first uninformed and emotional response is that those complaining are scammers or dishonest. How long did it take to finally convince people that smoking and lung cancers were connected, DUH!!!!! I could give a *** about anything but getting my smell and taste back right now. I sure didn’t go to the store to buy something in hopes of hurting myself for a lawsuit or potentially damaging 2 of 5 senses, maybe permanently…. No, I trusted that if the FDA allowed this remedy to be on the shelves, and I read and followed the directions as printed, that I would at the very least be safe in doing so, and any risks would be clearly stated so I could determine if I was willing to bear those risks. Instead I am now hoping that I can get my sense of smell and taste back after simply using this product as directed, only to find out that this has been an ongoing debate and potential issue for years. WHERE WAS THE WARNING ABOUT LOOSING ALL SENSE OF SMELL/TASTE, MAYBE PERMANENTLY???!!!!!!!!!!

June 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm
(3) coldflu says:

Just FYI – Homeopathic and natural remedies are NOT regulated by the FDA. That is one of the reasons that they have so little control or say over what is put on the package. As long as they have the disclaimer that “these products have not been evaluated by the FDA”, they can get away with a lot. I’m sorry you have lost your sense of smell, definitely go see your healthcare provider. I hope it returns to you quickly.

June 17, 2009 at 11:50 am
(4) Mark Gillio says:

I lost most of my sense of smell last year after using zicam twice. My doctor said my smell might eventually come back, but after a few months I though I’d never smell right again. Then I read an article about a hot pepper nasal spray called Sinus Buster bringing back people’s sense of smell. Well it worked for me. After a couple weeks my smell was back to normal and my doctor thought it might make sense because the way hot pepper (capsaicin) affects the olfactory nerves in your nose that control smell and taste. So the lost smell from zicam may not be permanent if you use hot peppers to reverse it.

June 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm
(5) Tom says:

Hey Scott? So the teacher sounds ignorant to you??

Let’s review Mr. Gullible:

There have been around ONE BILLION doses of Zicam sold in the past 10 years and around 130 people claim to have lost their sense of smell. Do the math and see who the real ignorant is. There is a greater chance that a human will be struck by lightning than lose their sense of smell using Zicam.

Wise up!

June 18, 2009 at 3:22 pm
(6) coldflu says:

Let’s please all remember to be polite. There is no need to call each other names.

The FDA said they have received over 130 complaints, but that doesn’t mean those are the only people who have had this problem. They also found that Matrixx has received over 800 complaints that they failed to notify the FDA about. In fact, I have personally heard from over 100 people who believe they were affected by this product BEFORE the warning ever came out.

The bottom line is, no one knows the whole story. And we may never know for sure because who wants to undergo testing when your sense of smell is at stake? I’m not saying it does or it doesn’t, but if the FDA thinks it’s better not to use the stuff, then that’s what I’ll do.

July 1, 2009 at 3:59 pm
(7) Denton Cameron, MD says:

Zicam zinc gluconate does reduce the viral load and the length of symptoms. Iím surprised Matrixx, or Quigley earlier, ever settled so big and so many times. Especially since it has been shown that the very viruses that cause rhinosinusitis (rhinovirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, etc) also cause anosmia, sometimes for a period of weeks or months. Iím sad the litigants and lawyers have driven the pharmaceutical companies to stop making products that benefit 99.999% of us.

July 21, 2009 at 11:21 pm
(8) Jill says:

When I heard about the recall on the nasal gel, I realized that my sense of smell is almost completely gone. The sense of smell isn’t something you necessarily notice right away. I live in Texas and suffer from allergies and a stuffy nose. Hopefully the number of Zicam users who have lost sense of smell and taste will remain a small number. I told so many people about Zicam after I first started using it as it helped with cold symptoms SO much. Now I warn everyone to stop using their bottle and return it.

December 15, 2009 at 12:59 pm
(9) Nate Thomson says:

This is not a hoax folks. It has happend to me. I have lost my sense of small and taste. I pray it is not permanent, have to go see the dr. Glad this was posted because I was trying to figure out what caused this to happen. Now I know. Please be careful, people.

May 6, 2010 at 9:52 pm
(10) Lisa says:

This is terrifying. I have used Zicam in the past and never had a problem. Always helped me and I felt better after using it. I used it twice this week and now have no sense of smell. I am hoping it will come back tomorrow. I have had a terrible cold so I am hoping it is just a matter of time. Regardless, I am calling my doctor in the morning and get his opinion.

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