Zicam and the Reputation Management Fiasco

Zicam Oral MistAwhile ago, I used Twitter to talk about one of my favorite cold remedy vitamins, Airborne. It was then that two friends suggested Zicam to me. When stocking up on medication for the winter months, the high recommendations of Zicam had me buying the oral mist.

On Sunday night, after a rather interesting Superbowl XLII, I felt the onset of a cold. As most of these cold medicines suggest, you should take the medicine at the first sign of illness. I immediately thought of my Zicam and was eager to try it out to kill the cold before it really gets bad.

Monday morning, to continue to fight off whatever this may be, I took the recommended dosage of Zicam a second time. I went on my day realizing that I had lost the sense of taste. I ate leftover nosh from the game: really spicy salsa and chips. The spiciness did not impact me. I had some Hershey Kisses. The chocolate taste was dull, as if almost not there.

For the entire day, I discounted the idea that anything would be wrong (and that it was really a cold, after all). I left it alone until late at night when the problem continued to persist. I decided to search for “zicam tastebuds.” I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only one with this temporary (or so I hope) loss of taste. The first result alarmed me.

It was a link to a class action suit that impacts Zicam users who have lost their taste (and/or smell) by using the spray.

Normally, I’m one who fights for strong reputation management. Now, I’m a victim. If I did this search again, I can’t say I’d want that #1 result to go anywhere. Apparently, Zicam is ranked for numerous health-related concerns and I feel that the results belong where they are. The result I was looking for was relevant to my needs and is certainly something that people should know about.

For all I know, Zicam isn’t out to change their rankings. But if they were looking to make a change, I think that reputation management offerings should still exist. Personally, this is one case that I’m biased about, as it really hits home. In the past few months, I’ve dealt with companies who are unfortunate victims of bad links in Google, but those links refer to incidents that are years old (and are even resolved). The pages, however, are not removed from the Google search results because the site owners often want to be “bought.” (“Pay me some money and I’ll remove the page.”) Poor rankings kill businesses, and negative rankings destroy trust. In those cases, I strongly encourage reputation management services — but I can’t say I agree with it all the time.

The Question: What Would You Do?

What would you do if you have a client who wants you to change their rankings but their mission conflicts with your interests? What if they are trying to push down rankings that you feel are important for public safety? While I’ve asked a doctor for his opinion on my particular case (and he said it happened to him too!), if I lost my sense of taste forever, I’d want other people to know about the dangers of the medication and not to have someone who is paid off to push the results down so that people who are doing solid research will be misled.

What is more important to you? Top dollar or public safety? I’d love to hear your thoughts about these particular cases in the comments.

Update 12/11/08: I was watching TV on Monday night and saw a Zicam commercial for the first time. Sadly, since Zicam is an over the counter remedy (for now), there was no required disclaimer for side effects. There was not one mention of the possible loss of smell or loss of taste reported on numerous websites by real people (who have no relationship to one another and simply want to report on a fact and not a myth). In fact, it seems that the company does not want to acknowledge that its chemical compound may actually really have a negative impact on a small fraction of individuals.

In reputation management, you need to own up to your mistakes. If Zicam has had hundreds of complaints about loss of taste or loss of smell, they are obligated to give a warning on the package, in promotional materials, and where any consumer may stumble upon the product. Instead, though, they are choosing to remain silent. I hope that if there’s anything you can take away from this article, it’s to be unlike Zicam. Own up to your faults and mistakes. By taking a proactive stance about a flaw you have within your product offering, your constituents would be better educated about the possible risks, and chances are, these negative reports about your product would not have reached the Internet anyway because the warnings would have been staring the consumers down in the face.

Update June 19, 2009: It looks like the FDA has finally taken notice, as per SoCal Wife. Now why is it that there are still naysayers in the comments?

Tamar Weinberg is a hustler and juggler. She is the VP of Marketing at Ruxly Creative, a creative marketing agency. She's the Director of Sales at Internet Marketing Ninjas, a 100+ employee search engine marketing agency located in upstate New York. She also rocks global sales at financial media publication Wall St. Cheat Sheet. Finally, she is the Chief Strategy Officer of Small Business Trends. Oh wait, and she's also the community manager at Namecheap. Yeah, like a boss.

81 Comments

  • February 6, 2008

    Makakman

    Sorry to hear your taste buds took a turn for the worst. On the case of a cover up I would have to decline, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if something even worse than your case happened and I helped push rankings down for valuable info. On your second instance of reputation management I quite agree. If a business resolved an issue but still ranks for the original mister meaner then assistance should be provided. I expect a lot of businesses don’t realise the power of the web/WOM in these cases. Get well soon Tamar.

  • [...] Weinberg has a fascinating post on her blog entitled, Zicam and the Reputation Management Fiasco that made me think of the ethics of social media. In it she recounts using Zicam, which was [...]

  • February 6, 2008

    May Ling Su

    I’m extremely biased against Big Pharma, so I’ll say public safety is more important than top dollar. As for ethical reputation management, especially if a company is trying to address bad press that affects their consumers, identifying (owning up to) the problem is as important as letting their consumers know what they are doing to solve this problem. I don’t think it should be about erasing the problem from public knowledge. Isn’t reputation management about promoting transparency to build trust in their brand?

    On another note, Airborne looks like a healthier product. Were you unsatisfied with it? I personally use the herbal remedy Echinacea at first sign of illness. Works for me every time.

    Take care, Tamar!

  • February 6, 2008

    Michael D

    Tamar, that live twittering of commercials must have been too much for your immune system.

    Public safety comes first but reputation management is something the company may want to engage in. What if a new formula is developed that does not have the same side effects? If the issue is resolved they should move forward to clean things up. If it’s not, they deserve whatever bad rep they are getting.

  • February 6, 2008

    Gavin Mitchell

    Hope you get well soon Tamar. The website in question is a few years old now so a little clarification either way on the current situation would be nice – I guess if there was an FDA investigation there might even be a verdict by now.

    You never know, your post might revive wider interest in the topic and in a few weeks we could be seeing mysterious new pages promoting “Zicam’s zincy goodness” appearing in the SERPs ;)

    • May 12, 2010

      Manuel A

      spiciness is felt by pain receptors not taste buds

  • February 6, 2008

    Tamar Weinberg

    Is that what it is? Zinc? I’ve had Zinc before and it hasn’t killed my taste. :P

  • February 6, 2008

    Todd Mintz

    It’s a personal choice. Think of all the attorneys that do insurance defense work…no friggin’ way could I do that and sleep at night.

    A reputation management consultant who doesn’t know somebody with your affliction might not see this a public safety issue…it’s certainly less clear than the stuff going on with Celebrex.

    Hope you get better.

  • February 6, 2008

    Tom

    You’re spot on Tamar that as an (ethical) reputation management company you should always check out the negative results first to see how genuine they are. It’s often very difficult to get right 100% of the time but in a case where we feel the negative reputation is deserved we most certainly wouldn’t work with a client to clean their online reputation.

    SEO is all about manipulating the search results for profit (however much you hide that fact, it’s true) and you should always bear in mind what the consequences of your actions will be.

    PS – hope you’re feeling better now!

  • February 6, 2008

    Gab "SEO ROI" Goldenberg

    Be proactive about it, like Dreamhost. They misbilled people for $10M and quickly sent out an email apology for the error. I just got the email newsletter and it’s kidding (in a self-mocking way) about it and really boosts their brand, imho.

    Zicam? They should pull it until they figure out how to fix their product. And stop naming products with these ridiculously ugly names like Zicam. It sounds like some Greek mythic monster with 8 legs 7 eyes and too many warts to count. “Beware the Zicam beast!”

  • February 7, 2008

    Robin Jacob Abraham

    No,No and yet another no…that would be my response.Reputation matters when you have one.As with any other Social media campaign,if the content or the product’s not strong theres no pint in taking up the campaign

  • February 7, 2008

    Daniele Rossi

    I use ester-c when I feel a cold coming on. I pop in a good 1200mg every 2 hours and by the next day, cold is gone. I haven’t been sick once this winter!

  • February 7, 2008

    Greg Schnese

    Tamar,

    I wouldn’t work with someone if their interests conflicted with mine. I wouldn’t help this company lower their rankings for the loss of taste issue.

    I think it has a lot to do with confidence. If you’re confident that you can find work, which doesn’t conflict your interests, then you will turn down this job becuase you know you’ll get something else. If you aren’t confident, you might accept the job becuase you don’t’ know where the next one will come from.

    Greg

  • February 9, 2008

    Scott Woodard

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick, I also picked up a bug at this year’s Super Bowl party and have been fighting it all week.

    I think Tom’s dead on here. You have to pick the clients you feel right about or soon you’ll just end up dreading the work. Enjoying your job is far more important than short term revenue.

    On a side note I’ve been using Zicam all week. While it does screw with my taste buds, any effects go away for me in a day or so.

  • February 11, 2008

    Miguel Salcido

    Wow! I have been using Zicam for years with excellent success. I have used many of the different delivery methods including the spray, soft chews, and the nose swabs. I hated the taste of the spray and chews so I have settled on the nose swabs as that is where “rhino” viruses start to multiply and that is the best place to attack. The taste seemed to stick to my tongue for a while and had a weird after taste kinda like I licked a rubber tire.

    This is really too bad because to this day I swear by the stuff and actually just fought off a cold with it successfully again last week. While my family and everyone in my office has missed many days of work and doctor’s visits, I was able to fend it off.

  • February 11, 2008

    Tamar Weinberg

    Miguel, yeah, that’s the big issue. To those who recommend it, it’s excellent. To those who don’t, it’s because it kills your tastebuds (or smell!) I wish I’d have been able to swear by it, but alas, it’s not for me. :(

  • February 12, 2008

    SMeli

    i <3 airborne and tamar :-)

  • [...] Stories of the Week Zicam and the Reputation Management Fiasco http://www.techipedia.com/2008/zicam-reputation-management/ [...]

  • February 14, 2008

    an anonymous lizard

    i am hesitant to talk about this in public — google being what it is — but i have a client that wants me to do this, and it is definitely an ethical challenge. he’s not promoting anything that’s going to destroy people’s taste buds, but he is making some fairly outrageous claims about some really basic (but highly overpriced) supplements. quackwatch and another similar site both have whole pages devoted to him, very well-ranked. they have mercilessly dissected his whole professional life and been very harsh, in my opinion. however they do have some valid points.

    it’s a dilemma. here is a client that pays his invoices promptly and is a really super nice guy, except he may be a little delusional about the benefits of his product line. i try to edit him and restrain him from making any egregious overstatements about his supplements, and yes i am helping him rebuild his digital brand. i am trying to toe the ethical line best i can, but i still feel a little icky doing it.

    hope you get your taste buds back!

  • February 14, 2008

    Drew Stauffer

    Oh no!! I just took a bunch of Zycam the other day. Technically I still have all my senses, I think. I’m gonna keep my fingers crossed.

    Thanks for posting about this Tamar.

  • February 14, 2008

    Tamar Weinberg

    Drew, just don’t overdo it :) Quite frankly, I think I’d do fine if I took the Zicam syrup, but I don’t even want to take chances anymore. It’s only the oral and nasal mist that I think they name in the suit.

  • February 14, 2008

    Linda

    I posted this on Digg. It’s well worth the read. I do hope all goes well with you. I’m a big advocate on holistic remedies, but I don’t like the effects of Zinc ( a chief ingredient in Zicam). I don’t like the taste of Zinc… or actually, the aftereffects of Zinc. I hate the metallic taste of it, and how everything I eat tastes metallic after I ingest it. There’s alot to be said for alternative remedies, but then again, let the buyer beware. Excellent read.

  • February 14, 2008

    Tamar Weinberg

    Yeah, I don’t like the taste of zinc either. Thanks Linda. :)

  • February 14, 2008

    Steph

    Wow. I’ve used Zicam tons and it’s like a “miracle drug” for me. Never had this problem!

  • [...] result might have hurt her personally. The short story is that she recently had a cold, took Zicam, and then subsequently lost her sense of taste. She then searched on Zicam taste buds??? to see [...]

  • February 18, 2008

    geld lenen

    A lot of negative reactions against pharma’s… Face it, they also have shareholders BUT also ofter do a lot around diseases that don’t bring the best ROI for the less educated parts of the world. Also DAC is often done, and that is useful despite the governments should take the lead in this.

  • [...] is a relatively new term in SEO and it is hot. Really hot. Some social media and SEO specialists really focus on it lately or even start to sell reputation management services as their main offer. I already noticed a [...]

  • February 22, 2008

    Abhilash

    Hey Tamar, hope you’re feeling better now.

    I had a doctor once ask me to fix his “reputation” issues in the serps. I drop it in quotes because his problem wasn’t his reputation, but rather his questionable behavior in a number of situations that led to his crappy reputation on the serps.

    Get this: the article that was bashing him actually WON the Pulitzer Prize and was located on pulitzer.org/article-title.html.

    He tried to tell me the article was wrong. I told him it was doable but was going to be really damn expensive. I guess that means I’m a whore, but whatever. :)

  • February 27, 2008

    jWells-AdvancedLifeSkills

    Hi Tamar, great post.

    We all want others to consider our safety so how could we ever justify a lack of consideration for theirs?

    Our personal values play a huge role in your ability to reach our goals and achieve success in life. If we do not take the time to figure out what our standards and values are we can easily undermine your own success without even realizing it.

    I am not just talking about success in business. I’m talking about success in life. I am talking about your personal sense of self-worth, your relationships, your level of joy and satisfaction.

    If you want to have a truly worthwhile and abundant life, you must be clear on what it is right and what is wrong according to your personal code of ethics.

    When we want something in life, there is a tendency to justify our actions and excuse behavior that is out of harmony with our deep down sense of right and wrong. We may not even know we are doing it on a conscious level or we may minimize the situation telling ourselves it’s no big deal.

    The problem is, a on a deeper level we have created a conflict, an internal battleground. If we allow ourselves to continue without correcting the problem, sooner or later that internal conflict will undermine our efforts and we will be forced to compensate.

    Moral of the story: We need to be true to what we know to be right. If we sell out we might make money but the cost is way to high.

  • February 29, 2008

    Webmaster Tips

    What would you do if you have a client who wants you to change their rankings but their mission conflicts with your interests?

    Reputation management is generally a dirty line of work. I’ve been asked to do it a few times, and in every case the negative coverage was well deserved. Honor is worth more than money…

  • [...] With a recent flurry of blog posts on the subject of Reputation Management Ethics, I thought we would have to take a look on this subject in our own unique, detailed way and try to ‘wrap up the discussions’. Lots of top bloggers have covered it, many in response to an article from Computer World, some with issues of their own regarding an actual product. [...]

  • April 2, 2008

    Melanie Phung

    Very interesting discussion going on in the comments. You’ve clearly hit a nerve since so many people are talking about Zicam along with the rep management issue you highlight.

    It’s a dilemma that hits close to home right now. If I feel the search results over-represent an incident that’s long in the past, then I’m generally okay with trying to push that stuff down. That does not mean, however, that I’m going to be making up fake positive buzz to push to the top.

    Some clients who need reputation management do so because they had incompetent PR firms that allowed something to grow out of control, beyond reasonable proportion. Others are still digging that hole while they ask for help. The latter group is pretty hard to help and I’m not inclined to try.

  • April 22, 2008

    Gabe H.

    Tamar, I wish you the best of luck at getting your senses back working properly. It happened to me a long time ago and they’re still messed up. Don’t expect anything sudden to happen. It will take a long time if it happens at all. I have been bitter about this issue because the company refuses to admit anything is wrong with Zicam. It’s a very long story I won’t bore you with but something can potentially happen when zinc gluconate comes in contact with sensitive human olfactory cells. The problem is finding a human Guinea Pig to verify it.

  • May 10, 2008

    petnos

    This is a good example for people will face the situation you were in. They will act on a good way i think.

  • May 27, 2008

    ZICAM Petition

    I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently
    signed:

    “ZICAM REMOVAL FROM SHELVES”
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/zicam?e

    I really think this is an important cause, and I’d like to encourage you to add
    your signature, too. Please encourage others
    to sign the petition as well. It’s free and takes less than a minute of your
    time.

    Thanks!

  • June 22, 2008

    curtis

    i took zicam 3 days ago and i love granny apples and now when i eat em they taste bitter and hot wings taste burnt even a margrita tasted nasty and it was even straberry i thought it was cause i was sick but im better now and everything i eat taste nothing like it did i wish i read this before useing it is there anything i can do this is bull *&^%

  • July 8, 2008

    ZICAM Petition

    We’ve tried everything; doctors testing and medicnes to eastern remedies and acupuncture to repair the Zicam caused anosmia. We’ve contacted the FDA, and lawyers and the media. Best we can do now is to try to get the word out. Tell your family and friends and get them all to sign the petition at ipetitions.com Seach for Zicam. Maybe we can stop the next user from becoming a victim.

  • September 19, 2008

    Nothing without God

    I’ve taken Cold-Eez and Airbourn numerous times and though I can’t say they really work (the last time I took them I ended up in the hospital with a super severe cold).
    As I type right now I have Zicam in both nostriles and I’ve been taking it for 3 days. My wife has taken Zicam as well. No issues with taste or smell. My guess is that some people have a reaction to zinc.

  • September 19, 2008

    Tamar Weinberg

    I’m not sure if it’s specific to zinc. I’ve taken Airborne many times and I have also taken Cold-Eeze before (I *hate* the taste of zinc). I’m not sure what it was, but I don’t think it was zinc related because I never encountered this problem until I actually tried Zicam.

  • October 6, 2008

    Annice Brown

    As flu season approaches, I use a wildcrafted remedy called Immune Blend from Red Moon Herbs in North Carolina. It’s a small local company using the highet quality of ingredients. It’s a tincture, take it for 6 weeks – stop for 6 weeks and then the flu season is over. Great stuff and totally affordable.

  • November 12, 2008

    bev codner

    guess it would make a good diet product too lol

  • November 12, 2008

    bev codner

    but i do have to say when one hears somebody complain about a product they say oh i think i had that too. just too much time on their hands, its a great product.

  • November 12, 2008

    bev codner

    one other thing how can you prove you lost your taste buds or sense of smell ? is it like you cant prove your back doesnt hurt? i think its hogwash.

  • November 13, 2008

    ZiICAM Petition

    It may be a great product for you. But there are hundreds of people effected the same way by the use of Zicam. The loss of smell and taste is devastating. And until you walk in their shoes you really don’t have the knowledge or understanding of the situation to respond with a comment that infers that they are making it up. Why would they? There are plenty of medical problems and/or effects of drugs that cannot be seen, but that does not negate their existence. Why not have a little compassion for those who have suffered at the hands of a company who does not care enough to at least warn their paying customers of the potential harm?

  • December 13, 2008

    KJR

    I used the Zicam nasal gel (original spray bottle) once a little over four months ago, and have been in smell/taste hell ever since. The immediate reaction was crazy burning, then I realized I had absolutely no smell or taste at all. Within 24 hours I was at the ENT, and was put on prednisone to reduce inflammation. The two ENTs I have been to are both surprised that this product is still on the market. They have seen too many patients come to their offices with the same injury.
    Any recovery to date has been minimal, and what I do taste or smell now, tastes/smells terrible. I hope that this will change over time, but I still can’t smell my delicious children or my lovely husband. I try to look on the brightside – no smell at all when my two and a half year threw up all over my car last week! – but it’s hard to be chipper when I can’t even enjoy a glass of wine with friends.
    I have started a group on Facebook called Warning! Don’s Use Zicam. I urge you to join.
    Tamar – I wish you well and hope things start to improve. Stay positive!

  • December 13, 2008

    KJR

    Sorry that Facebook Group should be:

    Warning! Don’t Use Zicam!

    Thanks.

  • December 21, 2008

    KMJ

    KJR this really alarms me. I used Zicam on Dec 18 and had severe burning in my nose for about 3 hours after that no sense of taste or smell. 3 days later and I occasionally get a very brief whiff or taste of something. Since Dec 20 the doctor has me on prednisone for 6 days. I am so hopeful it comes back but I hear stories like yours and I dont hear stories that anyone experienced the burning and has recovered. Have you heard of anyone regaining their sense of smell? I love to cook and smell candles and the scents of nature…I worried

  • January 7, 2009

    EDPD

    i just got some zicam today and took it for the first time. hope i dont get any of these symptoms. I got the RapidMelt kind and it tastes awful

  • January 8, 2009

    MBW

    I use Zicam all the time and have never had a problem…I love it and view it as a miracle drug, at least for me. For those of you who HAVE had a problem, I have a suggestion…

    There is a drug called *Periactin*, which is an antihistamine…my son had chemotherapy which effected his taste buds…nothing tasted good, things tasted very metallic. After speaking with other parents, several suggested trying Periactin. It worked great…it normalized his taste buds within just a few days and got him eating again. (He is doing great now, over two years out from diagnosis)

    Periactin is available in generic form and is very inexpensive. I am not sure if it will work, but is worth a try.

    Like other anti histamines, it can make you a little tired, so it is best to take before bedtime.

  • January 21, 2009

    give me a break

    sounds like hooey to me. even if you temporarily lost your sense of taste or smell, i’m sure that is counterweighted by the loss of cough or other cold symptom.

  • January 21, 2009

    Tamar Weinberg

    “Give me a break,” anyone in their right mind isn’t going to use Zicam for more than one or two doses, thus not getting to the point where Zicam actually combats a cold or effectively addresses the cold symptom.

    Ironically the “hooey” you speak of has affected hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals.

  • January 21, 2009

    KJR

    @ Give me a Break:
    It’s five months since I used Zicam one time and burned my olfactory nerve. Whatever I can smell or taste is distorted, and in many cases nauseating. Quite frankly I would rather be in bed with a cold for a few short days than suffer the aggravation and stress that this one time use has caused me for five long months.
    Please try to have a little compassion.

  • March 29, 2009

    Mike

    OK, I’ve used Zicam dozens of times, and it’s my miracle cold cure! The bottle has directions on it, and if you follow the directions, it works marvellously. If you try to snort the Zicam like you do a nasal spray, it will burn like fire. Don’t snort it. Just get the drop (gel) into the nose, and pinch your nose shut for 30 seconds. Don’t tilt your head back either. I think that’s the problem with most people who’ve tried it is that they try to snort it up into their sinuses like sinus spray. Bad move. If they don’t follow the manufacturer’s directons for use, then they deserve to lose their sense of smell and taste for using a product in a manner inconsistent with it’s labelling. That’s just someone’s stupidity being hung around the neck of a very well meaning company that makes a great product. Just like that stupid lady who put the hot McDonald’s coffee between her legs and tried to drive her car. What a Dumb Sh1t. People are stupid and interpret things incorrectly because they lack common sense. If all else fails, READ THE DIRECTIONS.

  • March 29, 2009

    Tamar Weinberg

    Mike, it’s hard to screw up the proper dosage of the oral mist which is the actual medicine that made me lose my taste temporarily. You’re talking about nasal spray; I specifically mentioned that the oral mist was the product that caused the problem. ( If you overdosed, that’s your only mistake, but all (?) of us didn’t.)

    While I understand you have good intentions, you’re telling us to read the directions. I’m telling you to READ THIS POST because I never talked about the nasal spray. Don’t assume that thousands of individuals lost their senses of smell and taste because they can’t read. Maybe it actually is a chemical issue with the medication after all.

    I know it works for some people, but clearly, it doesn’t work for others. That’s the bottom line. You’re lucky it helped you. Not all of us are that fortunate.

  • June 16, 2009

    WOOOWW

    omg guys i have a cold and i cant taste anything?!? im gonna blame the medicine for taking away my taste.
    Our sense of smell in responsible for about 80% of what we taste.
    Without our sense of smell, our sense of taste is limited to only five distinct sensations: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and the newly discovered “umami” or savory sensation. All other flavors that we experience come from smell.
    This is why, when our nose is blocked, as by a cold, most foods seem bland or tasteless.
    research before you complain, kthnx.

  • June 16, 2009

    Tamar Weinberg

    WOOOWWW, so what do you say to those who can smell just fine and can’t taste a thing?

    And further, what do you say about today’s FDA announcement?

  • June 16, 2009

    Zicam FDA Warning

    [...] the web for over a year already that people are experiencing a loss of taste or smell after using Zicam.  In one case the person had extreme burning in their nasal passage, to the point where they could [...]

  • June 17, 2009

    Johnny

    Thanks Tamar for your posts! You have been out there “preaching” Zicam was causing loss of smell and taste and now the FDA is too. Good job for putting up with the dumb ass people who rant rather than study the facts. I threw my Zicam away. I saw a news program ask, “What is the best thing to do instead of taking Zicam?” The answer was, “Eat chicken soup!” Grandma was right! She said to eat chicken soup and she can still smell! I also know taking Vitamin C helps me, but make sure you can take Vitamin C. Anway Tamar, thanks again for standing up and warning all of us!

  • June 18, 2009

    Tom

    Let’s review:

    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. There is a greater chance that a human will be struck by lightning than lose their sense of smell using Zicam.

    Wise up! This is about the AMA and the huge pharmaceutical companies not liking the fact that more and more people were using Zicam and finding out how well it works.

  • June 18, 2009

    Tamar Weinberg

    Tom, you really think only 130 people claimed to have lost their sense of smell? I think the FDA only caught wind of 130 offical complaints, but I’m sure there are thousands. I didn’t realize I could contact the FDA, for example — all I used was Google, only to lead me to that page on the 1+ year old class action lawsuit.

    One billion is a high number — care to cite your source on that?

    If there’s a higher chance that a human will be struck by lightning, then I wonder what the chances are that both father (mine, who also lost his taste from Zicam) and daughter would be struck by lightning!

    Please stop defending them. Their product may be effective for some, but for others, all I have to say is that Zicam sucks.

  • [...] Second – Conflicts of Interest As bloggers, podcasters, marketers and PR professionals adopt social media tools and tactics, they are often caught in the middle of problematic situations. You are being paid to represent a client – but what if said client wants you to not be transparent, truthful, or trustworthy? How far will you go and what damage does your brand risk? When you are conversing on social networks, how, what, and when do you disclose your business relationship? Tamar’s post on the Zicam controversy addresses these questions. [...]

  • October 7, 2009

    Joe Sticky

    To Gab Goldenberg…

    Zicam is not just a random word. Zi is for the chemical Zinc, which is basically all this product is…just a supplementary dose.

    ICAM-1 is a binding site for cold viruses.

    So Zicam is actully just a combination of what the product is and what the product is trying to slow.

  • January 2, 2010

    Donna

    I had used the nasal spray without problems. However, on the third day of use, the oral mist has left me completely without taste. I’m hoping the effects are temporary!

  • January 17, 2010

    Carla

    I just heard of the Zicam scare after I used it twice. I’ve been having this cold for 8 days and never lost my taste buds until I used Zicam Oral Mist. Thanks for your info!

  • April 2, 2010

    Joellyn

    Whew. I only took four doses of the Rapid Melt (9 pm, midnight, 4 am, and 7 am) and already everything tastes “off” and salty. Smell unaffected. I am, naturally, stopping the stuff and get the sense that this will pass in a day or two. I will post and let everybody know.

    My medial intuitive buddy said start gargling with plain old salt water to get the s**t out of the body! I will post if that works also.

  • April 2, 2010

    Joellyn

    Whew. Wish I’d known this…I’ve only taken four doses of RapidMelt (9 pm, midnight, 4 am, 7 am) and already everything tastes off, dull and salty. Smell, luckily, is unaffected.

    Spoke to my medical intuitive buddy who said to gargle with salt water every hour or so and pull that garbage out of the system!

    I’ll let folks know if this works and what my resultant ‘taste down time’ is.

  • April 2, 2010

    Lauren

    Going through the same thing; I took Zicam a few days ago and beginning the day after I had first taken it, I haven’t been able to taste ANYTHING. I’ve been able to drink strong black coffee, green tea from the bag, etc. without sugar (which I normally think is disgusting without sugar, soy milk, etc.), even eat jalapenos, and basically have zero idea what I’m eating/drinking if it weren’t for my sense of sight. I am not happy with Zicam and hope these issues will be resolved soon….

  • April 3, 2010

    Joellyn

    As of this morning (Saturday 4/3) I was virtually back to normal 24 hours after taking my last dose. No residual taste problems today. But you can bet your booties that I will NEVER take this stuff again. Once unharmed was lucky — but who knows for next time?

  • May 19, 2010

    Katlynn Chilson

    I just began taking Zicam 2 days ago- the nasal spray. Now, in order tp smell something, I have to almost stick my nose into the substance that I’m smelling. And, last night I ate a huge fudge brownie that I’ve had before- its so rich I have to chug water when I’m finished with it!- and I tasted almost nothing at all, just a mix between a little bit of fudge and a taste of carboard or something. Please tell me that your sense cam back, becuae, my grandfather told me that tjis problem is unresovleable- Now I’m so scared!

  • October 28, 2010

    Jenna

    Tamar, everything you are saying is completely true and there have been thousands if not more cases of people losing there sense of smell and/or taste from the use of Zicam. My mother-in-law is one of those people. It has been 2 YEARS since her use of Zicam and also 2 years since she had her sense of smell. It is not because of the effects of a cold that people are saying they can’t taste/smell as this has been a long term thing. I bought Zicam yesterday before doing research on ALL the types as I thought it was just the nasal swabs that caused the loss of smell/taste. Yeah, I feel like an idiot. I only used it once and everything is okay so I am praying that I escaped the horrible effect. I hope you get your senses back soon! Keep seeing doctors!!

    • October 28, 2010

      Tamar Weinberg

      Thanks Jenna. I have my taste back. I think some of the Zicam products have since been recalled. It’s a real bummer to know that it was able to be sold for so long!

  • January 29, 2013

    heather

    weird taste in mouth and loss of taste ,taking the Zicam liqui-loz.hopefully I’ll get back to normal tomorrow .

    • January 29, 2013

      Tamar Weinberg

      I really don’t get why Zicam is still on the market.

  • February 3, 2013

    Crista

    I have used four doses of the Zicam plus cold oral mist since yesterday and now I can’t taste anything!!!! I can still smell although diminished. I am very worried that this is permanent. I had no idea about this side affect until I googled “Zicam and taste loss” and saw that this has affected so many people. Some have gotten their senses back , others are years out and still have a loss of taste and or smell. I am devastated and very scared that I will be one of those that will never taste anything normally again. I am praying this is temporary!!!

  • February 3, 2013

    Crista

    @Tamar, How long did it take for your sense of taste to return to normal???

    • February 3, 2013

      Tamar Weinberg

      Oy! I hope you will get your taste back, Crista. It took about a week but I am fine now.

      • February 3, 2013

        Crista

        @tamar. Thanks for ur fast Reply. It’s been approximately 12 hours since I took the last dose and I’m just now beginning to taste again. Still not normal but I’m beginning have hope that in the next 24 to 36 hours I will have recovered my taste and smell. I pray that this is so, and I will NEVER USE this product in again in any of its forms. I feel like I may have been lucky enough to have dodged a bullet that some unfortunate people have not. I really feel awful for those that have not recovered. I will post as changes or no changes in my taste occur. Thanks for this forum and your efforts to get this dangerous medication off market.

        • February 14, 2013

          Cheryl

          If you read all of the info about loss of smell it’s from nasal use of zicam- not the oral products. There’s research that supports the use of zinc for the treatment of colds and some information that suggests nasal use of zinc may lead to loss of smell. Also the FDA report was in 2009 so i would venture a guess that ingredients have been changed since then (hopefully) I’ve been using the zicam oral mist for a while now and have no issue with loss of smell. Hope this helps!

          • February 14, 2013

            Tamar Weinberg

            Not it does, Cheryl. I lost my taste with the oral mist. Clearly something is wrong with this picture.

        • February 15, 2013

          Jeniece

          I wish I had read this before I used it. I’m freaking out because its been 24 hours and my sense of taste is still gone. I’m so angry!

  • May 29, 2013

    chris

    Took the Zicam crystals first thing this morning and haven’t been able to taste all day. Right after I let the crystals dissolve it felt like I had burned my tongue!!!