Momlogic met one mom who says she lost more than just her sense of smell because of Zicam.
** Editor's note: This is one mom's story of what she says happened after using Zicam. Matrixx, the makers of the drug, strongly denies these claims, saying they have no data that shows a link between losing one's sense of smell to use of their product. Click here to read their entire statement.
Jackie Tyler: Overnight, I had lost taste and smell. The thought that I could no longer smell a rose, the ocean, my daughters' hair, my future grandbaby's "baby smell," or the other thousands of smells and tastes that give meaning to life was overwhelming.
In March of 2006, I woke up with a cold. I used the Zicam nasal pump spray, thinking, "I bet that's even more effective, because it can really penetrate into your nasal sinuses." (I later learned this spray can shoot many feet into the air. Imagine what that does to your nose?)
Immediately upon using the Zicam spray in one nostril, I experienced an intense burning in my nasal passages that lasted a few minutes. I thought, "Boy, I really am coming down with a bad cold ... my sinuses are all raw." So I used it in the other nostril.
I went about my day, and at 5 PM, began dinner. I noticed immediately that I couldn't smell what I was cooking. "This cold is a bad one," I thought. "I already can't smell." Odd, considering I wasn't stuffed up.
At dinner, I couldn't taste a thing. For two weeks, it stayed the same. Puzzled, I Googled "loss of smell" and "cold" -- and found message boards with stories from hundreds of people who reported losing their sense of smell because of Zicam.
Could this be permanent? What was happening?
I got an immediate appointment with an ear, nose, and throat doctor, who confirmed my total loss of taste and smell. Quickly, I saw another doctor at the La Jolla Taste and Smell Clinic at UC San Diego, who put me on 50mg of Prednisone (a potent prescription anti-inflammatory) -- but he said he wasn't optimistic for me because too much time had passed. Two weeks, and this was irreparable? Why wasn't this more well-known? Where were the warnings?
For the first time, the enormity of my situation hit me. Overnight, I had lost two of my five senses: taste and smell. Besides no longer being able to taste or smell food, which was devastating enough, the thought that I could no longer smell a rose, or the ocean, my daughter's hair, my future grandbaby's "baby smell," or the other thousands of smells and tastes that give meaning to life was overwhelming.
After going through all the emotions that loss of taste and smell created -- sadness, depression, fear -- I got mad. From my research, it was evident that zinc solution can destroy the olfactory nerve, and Matrixx knew it and refused to remove at least the nasal spray from drugstore shelves. I called everyone to publicize my story and others like it -- even Oprah -- but heard back from no one. I went on a local crusade and spoke to every pharmacist in my area to warn them of the Zicam danger. No one had ever heard of it.
Six months went by, and I wasn't going down without a fight. I'd survived breast cancer twice and had only just recovered from my second surgery before Zicam robbed me of my smell. I'd be damned if I was going to let this diminish my quality of life that I'd fought hard to live.
Even the best doctors remained pessimistic about my recovery, so I sought out a naturopath by the name of Patty Thetford Thompson. She specializes in treating disease with micro-current frequency and natural supplements. The theory behind frequency therapy is that every illness or injury, or state of wellness, for that matter, has a specific vibratory frequency. Restore the vibrations of your olfactory nerves, and you're back on track. It sounds out-there, but I was willing to try anything.
Patty applied electrodes to my forehead and nasal area, used frequency-transmitting gloves in my nasal passages, and applied a frequency to counteract a chemical burn. I saw her every week for several weeks. After about four treatments, I perceived the first faint hint of smell -- the lavender oil in her office. I was ecstatic. That night, I could taste my toothpaste -- strong tastes and smells came back first.
I could smell the ocean after about a year, and yes, I can smell the roses, and my daughter's hair! I still don't have 100% function. Some days it seems like 50%, and some days even closer to normal. I am one of the lucky ones who got something back. I credit the doctor who prescribed prednisone therapy, and Patty's frequency treatments for my recovery.
I didn't pursue a lawsuit against Matrixx, but I continued to be very vocal and proactive in my community about the dangers of Zicam nasal spray. I'm so relieved to know that the FDA has finally come down on the manufacturer, Matrixx. Sadly, it comes too late for many people already harmed who will never be able to "smell the roses."