Zinc is classified as an essential mineral. It is essential to over 180 biologic functions. Many foods rich in trace minerals contain zinc, with the highest amounts in meat products. Lesser amounts are found in milk, spinach, nuts, oats, rice and beans.

Many experts say that zinc deficiency is widespread. People living in poverty with diets low in zinc, especially children below five years of age, need zinc the most. Deficiencies result in poor wound healing because of zinc's role in cellular repair. Zinc deficiency also leads to slower growth. Most importantly, children with low levels of zinc are at increased risk for infection, severe infections and death.

Zinc is prescribed to treat and prevent diarrhea for children < 5 years of age.

Yes, zinc and ORS can be given at the same time when a child has diarrhea. Zinc is given once a day. Give the zinc at a time of day that is easy for you to remember and repeat every day for 10-14 days. ORS needs to be given throughout the day only as long as your child has loose or watery stools, but zinc should be given for the entire 10 to 14 days.

During diarrhea ORS should be given first and followed by zinc. If it is the first time the child has received zinc, it is best to wait 30 minutes after the ORS is given.

Usually children with severe dehydration are given intravenous fluids first. After the intravenous fluid is no longer needed and the child is not vomiting, ORS and zinc should be started.

The zinc tablet is meant to be dissolved in water, breast milk, or ORS. Other fluids are not recommended.

No, you should continue to give plenty of ORS, as recommended, even though you are giving zinc. ORS will help to replace fluids lost during diarrhea. Zinc will speed up recovery but does not replace fluids.

The earlier that zinc is administered, the sooner the child will benefit. However, it can be started at any time during the illness.

Zinc treatment is recommended for the complete dosing regimen of 10 to 14 days because zinc not only decreases the number of days with diarrhea and the severity of diarrhea, it helps the child fight off new episodes of diarrhea and pneumonia for the next 3 months following a full treatment.

Studies have included 10 or 14 days of treatment. Both have been proven to be equally effective.

Yes, all episodes of diarrhea should be treated with zinc. Even if a child has recently completed a full course of zinc treatment, it is still safe to give a second course. Children with persistent, repeated episodes of diarrhea should be taken to a clinic or hospital.

It is clear that zinc is vital for a wide range of biological functions. In diarrhea we have come to know that zinc helps in the following ways:

- It boosts the immune system  - It helps in healing the intestinal lining  - It improves absorption of fluids

The zinc treatment is given according to age, not weight. Irrespective of the child's weight, the recommended dose of zinc for children 6 months to 5 years is 20 mg zinc once daily for 10 consecutive days. Children 2 to 6 months are prescribed 10 mg/day.

Yes, it can be chewed. Chewing is not the recommended mode of delivery, but is acceptable.

Give the zinc tablet the next day and continue for the full course of 10 days.

The current recommendation is to provide zinc treatment to all children < 5 years of age. However, diarrhea among newborns is rare and may be a sign of sepsis or severe disease so care should be sought.

Zinc can be given to anybody, but WHO/UNICEF recommendations are limited to children under five years of age.

No. Parents should be advised to only purchase zinc products that you know to be safe and of high quality.

Yes, children should continue to be fed. Allow the child to take as much as they want. If vomiting occurs, the smaller, more frequent feeds are recommended.

Yes, zinc can be given with other medications. However, if a child is receiving iron supplement, it is recommended this be stopped while on the zinc treatment because the iron will decrease the effect of zinc.

Yes, multivitamins without iron can be continued. If the multivitamin contains iron, it should be stopped until the 10-14 days of zinc is finished.

During the 10-day period of zinc treatment, the child should stop taking the iron supplements. If the child is being treated for severe anemia, he/she should be seen by a doctor (or nurse where no doctor is available) before deciding to continue or stop iron supplementation.

Zinc fortified foods contain low amounts of zinc in line with recommended daily requirements. Adding the zinc treatment is safe and highly recommended. There is no risk of overdosing.

Do not stop the zinc. The child should be taken to a local clinic or a community health worker for further assessment.

Zinc tablets are preferred over syrup for the following reasons:

- Easier distribution and storage 

- Lower cost 

- Easier for caretakers to administer properly as well as count the number of days given 

- Longer shelf-life

The ingredients in zinc tablet include zinc sulphate, glucose and flavoring.

At the dose being provided in the zinc tablet, there is a small increased chance of transient nausea or vomiting. If the child is vomiting, we recommend settling the child first before administering zinc.

You should keep the tablets away from all children in the home to prevent this from happening. If more than one tablet is taken, wait until the next day a resume to course of one tablet per day until the blister pack is finished

When a child is vomiting with diarrhea, wait for the child to settle before giving zinc. If the child vomits repeatedly withhold zinc for that day and start from the next day.