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Drink Plenty of Liquids for a Common Cold? Maybe Not - 2004-02-27


Australian doctors are questioning the traditional medical advice to drink plenty of liquids during a common cold. They warn that increasing fluid intake may be harmful.

Physicians often recommend extra liquids for patients with respiratory infections, such as colds or bronchitis. The idea is that they replace water lost from fever, correct for reduced food intake, and make mucous thinner.

But doctors at the University of Queensland in Australia say these benefits are only theoretical.

In Saturday's edition of the British Medical Journal, they point to evidence showing that during a respiratory infection, the body releases large amounts of a hormone that conserves water. They suggest that consuming additional water might lead to fluid overload and loss of necessary salt.

The Queensland physicians note that they have not been able to find any studies showing whether higher fluid consumption during a respiratory illness is harmful or beneficial.

However, they urge doctors to be cautious about such a recommendation until medical research can demonstrate for certain.