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Zinc Lozenges (cold remedy)

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Dec 03, 2020


What are zinc lozenges used for?

Zinc lozenges are used to prevent and shorten the duration of the common cold. It also reduces the severity of cold symptoms such as cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and hoarseness.

How should I take zinc lozenges?

This drug comes as a lozenge. Take it by mouth and allow it to dissolve on the tongue or cheek without chewing or swallowing the lozenge. Do not take on an empty stomach to avoid possible minor stomach upset. Do not eat or drink for 15 minutes after use. Evidence suggests that it is best to take zinc lozenges within 24 hours after the onset of a cold to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.

Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take it exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

How do I store zinc lozenges?

Zinc lozenge is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Zinc lozenge in the bathroom or the freezer.

There may be different brands of Zinc lozenge that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush Zinc lozenge down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using zinc lozenges?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of the active or inactive ingredients of zinc lozenge or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

When zinc lozenge cold remedy combines with certain foods, it may not be absorbed into your body. These following foods should be avoided or taken 2 hours after you take zinc lozenge cold remedy:

  • Bran
  • Fiber-containing foods
  • Phosphorus-containing foods such as milk or poultry
  • Whole-grain bread and cereals

Do not take zinc lozenge cold remedy supplements and copper, iron, or phosphorus supplements at the same time. It is best to space doses of these products 2 hours apart, to get the full benefit from each dietary supplement.

Stop using this drug and ask your doctor if your symptoms persist beyond 7 days.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Zinc lozenges are generally safe to use, however, there isn’t enough information about the safety of using zinc lozenges for cold remedy during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking zinc lozenges.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from zinc lozenges?

When taken in excessive doses, zinc may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomachache
  • Headache

In chronically excessive doses:

  • Lowered HDL (high-density lipoproteins)
  • Decreased immune function
  • Copper malabsorption

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with zinc lozenges?

Zinc lozenge may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects.

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist.

For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products may interact with this drug, such as:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Amiloride
  • Antibiotics (e.g. minocycline, doxycycline, tetracycline)
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Other zinc-containing medications
  • Other metallic mineral-containing medications (e.g. calcium, copper, iron, manganese)

Does food or alcohol interact with zinc lozenges?

Zinc lozenges may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with zinc lozenges?

Zinc lozenges may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using zinc lozenges.

What is the dose of zinc lozenge for an adult?

Adults and children 12 years and over:

Take one lozenge every 1 to 4 hours, as needed. Allow lozenge to dissolve slowly in the mouth without chewing or swallowing.

What is the dose of zinc lozenges for a child?

The standard dose has not been established in pediatric patients. Some preparations of zinc lozenges have been made specifically for pediatric patients and have much lower doses of zinc compared to adult lozenges. Lozenges may pose a potential choking risk to children below 4 years old and should not be given.

How are zinc lozenges available?

Zinc lozenges are available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Lozenge 8-50 mg (various brands, strengths, and formulations)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of zinc lozenges, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Dec 03, 2020

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