Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Does drinking fluids help when you have a cold?"
I have a cold and my friend said to drink lots of fluids to help it. Will this actually help? When should I give up and go to the doctor?
Fluids are an excellent thing to drink when you have a cold, especially lots of clear and thin fluids. This is because they help to thin out the secretions that your body makes naturally. As the secretions and mucous are more thin, they seem to clear more rapidly, making you feel better. Additionally, it is a part of staying well hydrated so that your body is able to fight the infection appropriately. Many people will find that warming the liquids helps in a similar manner, as both the steam and the warmth can contribute to clearing the mucous and resulting in a more normal upper airway. Turns out that your mom's advice to drink fluids and eat warm chicken noodle soup (and always wash your hands) was exactly right, as colds are caused by a virus that does not respond in any way to antibiotics. In most cases, antibiotics are not even considered for a cold until at least a week has passed without improvement. They are considered after a week depending on whether or not there is a suspicion of concomitant bacterial infection. Rinsing your nose with nasal saline several times a day may help as well. Please see your doctor if you have any further questions or concerns.
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