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Effect of Zinc Sulfate on Common Cold in Children

The common cold affects many children, especially in the winter season. Although the severity of common cold symptoms may vary from one child to the other, there are common symptoms such as fever, nose congestion, sneezing, and coughing. Zinc sulfate is a medication treatment prescribed by medical experts to cure zinc deficiency in the body. In the article “Effect of Zinc Sulfate on Common Cold in Children: Randomized, Double-Blind Study,” Kurugöl et al. investigated the impact of zinc sulfate on children experiencing common cold concerning the period and the intensity of the illness. [1] Although the study demonstrated significant findings in which zinc sulfate portrayed no impact on the duration and the ability to reduce the severity of the illness, it did not illustrate the efficacy of the treatment due to limitations, including small sample size and exclusion technique employed.

Kurugöl et al. conducted a Randomized, Double-Blind Study. It started From December 2004 and ended in March 2005. Also, the experiment was conducted during winter and included 120 kids; sixty-one of them were girls, and fifty-nine were boys with an average age of 5.2 years. In addition, only kids with one to two days of cold signs were enrolled, and neither group had abnormal serum zinc levels nor disqualified characteristics such as chronic diseases. The kids who were recruited had 2 out of 10 symptoms. The kids were divided equally into two groups, the first group had a spoonful of placebo syrup, and the second group had a spoonful of 15 mg zinc sulfate syrup twice a day for ten days by their parents in both groups. The children were not allowed to take any medication during the experiment, while they were only permitted to take Acetaminophen- a fever-reducing medicine. Meanwhile, a study coordinator called parents daily to discuss children’s cold signs and consult the scoring assessment to assess the severity of their illness. The assessment was as follows “0, absent; 1, mild; 2, moderate; or 3, severe” by parents. Along with the assessment, it was necessary to follow the children until the symptoms cleared up or until they had been treated for seven days. As a result, researchers found that both groups of participants had nearly the same results at the baseline. In other words, there were no noticeable changes between both groups, except the sickness intensity was minimized in the zinc group.

Kurugöl et al. used a sample size of 150 children. Of 150 children, only 120 students’ results were used to finalize the study. Small sample sizes are unreliable since they provide higher probabilities of high rates of error margins. Involving a higher number of subjects reduces bias representation of samples such that all gender composed of men or women are involved. According to Burmeister et al., the sample size affects the validity and accuracy of results. [2] Thus, the sample size should be adequate for better collection of data, analysis, and interpretation of the findings. In the article, the authors could not determine the impacts of zinc sulfate on the duration of symptoms due to the small sample size used. Also, they were unable to identify preexisting symptoms, which could have interfered with the zinc sulfate effect. According to Fashner et al., zinc sulfate should not be prescribed to children as it may lead to death. [3] However, in Kurugol et al.’s research, the administration of zinc sulfate improved the patients’ condition by reducing the severity of the disease. Apart from that, Kurugol et al. employed exclusion criteria to select the subjects. The participants must have met conditions including developing symptoms within 24-48 hours and had at least ten disease symptoms. As a result, the findings cannot be generalized for a larger group. To better illustrate, children have varying immune systems, thus responding differently to treatments. The inclusion of different subjects could have promoted the possibility of having children with similar immune systems, therefore, enhancing more accurate results. Also, the efficacy of the treatment was not determined. Some scholars may have contrary views on the sample size and exclusion criteria. For instance, Connelly claims that excluding many participants helps to reduce the sample size, promoting a quick and accurate data analysis. [4] However, this claim may limit the generalization of findings due to a small representation. Besides, Patino and Ferreira suggest that the inclusion criteria should be standard to produce efficient results. They claim that using the technique may promote faulty results. [5]

In conclusion, the findings of this study proved that zinc sulfate has a positive contribution in treating kids with the common cold disease. However, this study may lead to erroneous results since a small size and exclusion technique characterized it. Kurugöl et al. obtained that zinc sulfate seems to have no effects on reducing the duration of common cold symptoms, but it can help reduce the chances of contracting common cold in healthy children. However, they only sampled 150 children out of a very big population. The small sample used would lead to higher chances of producing erroneous results. Besides, the small sample made it impossible for the authors to thoroughly determine the impact of zinc sulfate on the common cold symptoms. Further, they employed exclusion criteria which led to the generalization of the findings. Further research is needed with adequate sample size and more inclusivity.


  1. Kurugöl Z, Bayram N, Atik T. Effect of zinc sulfate on common cold in children: a randomized, double-blind study. Pediatrics International. 2007 Dec;49(6):842-7. Available at:
  2. Burmeister E, Aitken LM. Sample size: How many is enough?. Australian Critical Care. 2012 Nov 1;25(4):271-4. Available at:
  3. Fashner J, Ericson K, Werner S. Treatment of the common cold in children and adults. American family physician. 2012 Jul 15;86(2):153-9. Available at:
  4. Connelly LM. Inclusion and exclusion criteria. Medsurg Nursing. 2020 Mar 1;29(2):125- 16. Available at:
  5. Patino CM, Ferreira JC. Inclusion and exclusion criteria in research studies: definitions and why they matter. Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia. 2018 Mar;44:84-. Available at: n


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