June 16, 2009

Cold remedies cause loss of sense of smell

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging people to stop using three Zicam-brand products marketed as cold remedies because of a health hazard.

The federal agency said Zicam-brand nasal gel, nasal swabs and nasal swabs Kids Size, are associated with anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, which can be long-lasting or permanent.

Officials said they have received more than 130 reports of anosmia associated with the use of the three Zicam products.

Loss of sense of smell is a serious risk for people who use these products for relief from cold symptoms, said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. We are concerned that consumers may unknowingly use a product that could cause serious harm, and therefore we are advising them not to use these products for any reason.

Officials said people experiencing a loss of sense of smell or other problems after use of the affected Zicam products should contact their health care professional. The agency said anosmia can adversely affect a person's quality of life, and can limit the ability to detect the smell of gas, smoke or other signs of danger in the environment.

The Zicam products are manufactured by Matrixx Initiatives Inc. of Phoenix.