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I think Zicam is causing my migraine headaches and auras--anyone else having this problem?

By February 8, 2009 - 12:20pm
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I've been using Zicam a lot lately to try to ward off the various colds and bugs that are flying around, and I've also been having a lot more migraines than usual. In fact, I've been having a lot of migraine auras, where I see the pretty wiggly colorful lights for about 30 minutes or so and I have a lot of trouble seeing. Fortunately, I'm in the very small group of people who get the migraine aura only and then no headache pain, but they are still disconcerting.

Just for some background, I've had migraines for probably the last 25 years or so, and the auras for about the last 10, but they are relatively rare and typically tie into something extra hormonal, like pregnancy, nursing, and menstruation/ovulation times. I can go for years without having a migraine aura so when they do pop up, I really try to figure out what might be causing them. I did see an eye doctor when they first started and he confirmed the diagnosis.

In the last month or so, I've used 2 types of Zicam--the oral mist that you spray in your mouth in four different places every few hours, and the Q-tip like swabs that are covered with a clear gel that you apply inside your nose every few hours. When I match up the days I was using either form of the Zicam and the migraines and/or migraine auras, they all correlate. When I stop using it, the auras stop totally.

Has anyone else ever had this problem? I'm really bummed about not using Zicam anymore because it works so well for me. I wonder why the Zicam causes this to happen in the first place? Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

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EmpowHER Guest

I too got the constant migraine headaches from zicam. I'm sure it was this product because I have never had migraines headaches like this before. I have stopped taking it but my head remains in a state where I'm going to get the exact type of headache again after two weeks. I'm now under doctors care to find out what going on as the result of using this product.

Never again!!! I'll let the cold take its coarse from now on.

March 17, 2009 - 10:24am
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, I am very sensitive and I got a splitting headache from a Zicam swab. I don't understand why something natural such as this would cause such an awful reaction.

March 16, 2009 - 8:24pm
EmpowHER Guest

I don't want to "trash" Zicam if it works for some people, but I took 2 of the Rapid Melt with Vitamin C citrus flavor yesterday afternoon (3 hours apart as the directions instruct you to do.) By the time I got home from work I had a headache and by nightime I could not see straight it hurt so bad. I too want the cold symptoms gone, but I am scared to take a Zicam today because I can't live with the pain I went through last night. p.s. I have never had a migraine headache in my life, but last night I thought I was going to have my wife take me to the ER.

March 11, 2009 - 5:27am
EmpowHER Guest

This is weird. I also have bad headaches when using zinc lozenges. Maybe we are in the minority but I definitely notice correlation with zinc lozenge use and my headaches.

March 6, 2009 - 2:20pm

I've not found anything establishing a direct link between Zicam and migraines, I'm sorry to say. However, I found numerous comments online about a loss of taste. Ironically, Dr. Charles Hensley, who invented Zicam, was to release a homeopathic nasal spray for migraine relief.

"While working with intracellular mediators involved in the development of common colds, our scientists discovered that these same compounds are putative causative factors in the genesis and maintenance of migraine attacks. Since they were already developing nasal delivery compounds to address this therapeutic target, it was a natural to pursue a therapy for migraine attack."

Source: Reuters, Tue Dec 4, 2007

February 17, 2009 - 8:41pm
EmpowHER Guest

My husband and I have both used the Zicam nasal swabs and they do lessen the cold symptoms and duration, but the trade off is that we both had constant migraine headaches when using Zicam. I hate colds, but the nagging migraine is not worth the cold relief!

February 17, 2009 - 6:09pm

Honestly, I haven't heard many good things about Zicam. The FDA does not regulate this product, and the only ones touting it's effectiveness are: the manufacturers and advertisers of Zicam. Studies have shown little to no benefit on Zicam's effectiveness in lessening the length or severity of cold symptoms.

Did you know that Zicam was in a lawuit a few years ago? Here is the Washington Post article. In fact, the article states, "Officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say they have received adverse reports involving Zicam, which was invented by several California entrepreneurs with credentials unusual for drug developers."

The ingredients in Zican (zinc gluconate) are similar to those found in Cold-Eeze, which has been pulled from the market.

The best source of information on drugs & supplements is Medline Plus, and here's what they say about zinc and its use for the Common Cold. It earned a "C" rating for this condition:
"There are conflicting results regarding the effect of zinc formulations in treating duration and severity of common cold symptoms. Although zinc might be beneficial in the treatment of cold symptoms, more studies are needed to clarify which zinc formulations may be most effective, which rhinoviruses are affected by zinc, and if nasal sprays provide a useful alternative application route for zinc treatment. A recent study found no significant differences between zinc nasal spray and placebo.Negative results may be caused by using doses of zinc that are too low or they may be affected by the presence of compounds like citric or tartaric acid, which may reduce efficacy due to chelating of the zinc ion."

Lastly, to answer your question about possible side effects, there is no mention of migraines:

"Zinc is regarded as a relatively safe and generally well tolerated when taken at recommended doses, and few studies report side effects. Occasionally, adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea have been observed.

Unpleasant taste, taste distortion, and abdominal cramping have been occasionally reported, especially in studies examining the efficacy of zinc containing lozenges in treating symptoms of common cold..."

Zinc has been shown to have drug interactions, so it is important to talk with your doctor or pharmacy about this and other prescription and non-prescription drugs and supplements you are taking! (I know you know this already!)

What are your thoughts?

February 8, 2009 - 8:23pm
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