The researchers randomly assigned each patient to take either one zinc acetate lozenge (containing 12.8 mg of zinc) or a placebo lozenge every 2 to 3 hours while awake as long as the cold symptoms lasted. Patients took no other cold remedies. Placebo lozenges looked and tasted like zinc lozenges but contained no active ingredient. Using a rating scale of none (0), mild (1), moderate (2), or severe (3), patients rated each of the following symptoms daily: sore throat, runny nose, nasal drainage, nasal congestion, cough, scratchy throat, hoarseness, muscle aches, fever, and headache. The researchers calculated daily symptom scores by adding up the symptom points each day (the lowest possible daily score was 0, and the highest possible score was 30). The end of the cold was the day on which a patient had no symptoms or only one mild symptom. Patients also recorded the occurrence of the following potential side effects: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, bad taste, and mouth irritation.