Common colds: Should we follow the "drink more fluids" advice?
There is no medical reason to drink more than you feel like drinking when you have a cold.
“Drink plenty of fluids!” We have all heard this advice before when we have a cold, the flu or any other respiratory tract infection. The idea behind this is that we lose more fluids when we have a fever. There is also a belief that extra fluids can help relieve mucus buildup.
But this advice is an example of a long-held belief for which there is no scientific basis. Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of researchers, tried to find out if there are any trials that can answer the question of whether increasing fluid intake can really help with respiratory tract infections. They also looked for any evidence that it might do harm.
The researchers found no trials of the practice at all, and a new search in 2009 did not produce any results either. There is, then, no evidence for or against the “more fluids” advice. The researchers came to the conclusion that people with respiratory tract infections like colds can just drink what feels right for them. Warm drinks can help ease sore throats, for example. But there is no medical reason to drink more than is comfortable.
You can read more about respiratory tract infections and how to relieve the typical symptoms of a cold here (URL: http://www.informedhealthonline.org/index.382.56.en.html) .
Author: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG)
- February 14th 2006 10:00
- April 24th 2012 14:51
Guppy MPB, Mickan SM, Del Mar CB. Advising patients to increase fluid intake for treating acute respiratory infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 4. [Cochrane summary (URL: http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004419/frame.html) ]