Drinking Extra Fluids When Sick a Big Waste of Time

by Liz Colville

Aren’t bevvies strange! One minute we’re drinking cocaine out of a glass bottle; the next we’re drinking sugar water to recharge after a session in the gym; the next we’re being told that Vitamin Water is only pretty on the outside (something to do with its owner Coca-Cola trying to paint over a dietary nightmare with a rainbow, forgetting that some, perhaps all, rainbows are also full of sugar); and now we’re being told that beverages aren’t really much of anything good or bad, particularly if you’re sick. They’re just…around. They go in your body, then they go out. Putting a lot of them in your body will cause a lot of them to, some time later, go out.

But putting too much of them in your body when you’re sick is neither a help nor a hindrance; it’s just a nuisance. So stop giving so much money to Tropicana. Given the declining reputation cold and flu medications and probiotics are now dealing with, illness could stand to be the cheapest thing you do in your spare time.

In its latest “Really?” health column, the New York Times debunks the idea that drinking extra fluids — more than the eight or so glasses a day — will help you get over an illness faster. The common thinking is that consuming more fluids — things like juice and water, not wine and coffee, sadly — “helps replace fluids lost from fever and respiratory tract evaporation, and it helps loosen mucus.” But research conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia found that there wasn’t really much research backing up this claim. In fact, the researchers were “unable to find even a single clinical trial in the last four decades that specifically studied whether increased fluid intake reduced the severity of an infection.” On the contrary, they found some evidence that children with pneumonia who consumed too many fluids could get hyponatremia, a dangerous sodium imbalance. Oops.

Photo via TheQuackDoctor