Should you drink alcohol when you are sick?

This whole week I have had a mild cold. I have tried to be careful to take care of myself. I have gone to work every day as I didn’t feel I was sick enough to stay home. I have gone to work every day and then every evening I have come home and lounged and watch TV/movies before I had to go to bed. Just taking it easy.

I think yesterday was the worst day of my cold. I feel better today. I am still tired and congested. But I am on my way to better health.

Regina, friend and co-worker, brought up my post from yesterday. So somehow it got me thinking about today’s topic: Should you drink alcohol when you are sick? (I am having a much harder time finding legit answers.)

From familydoctor.org: Ways to Treat Your Cold and Flu Symptoms: No. 5 Avoid Alcohol

On About.com: Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever: Do not drink alcohol. It will dehydrate you and interact with many over-the-counter medications.

Since I am having problems finding legit answers to my question, I rephrased on Google: Does alcohol kill germs when sick? From this article on associated content on Yahoo, the simple answer is no. A hot toddy will not cure a cold, but it will temporarily give relief to some cold symptoms. But really any hot drink will do that. Alcohol can also dehydrate you.

About a year ago I had a horrendous cold. It started in my chest and then moved its way up into my head. Oh man. It was bad. I was drinking tons of tea. Then I got the idea to add a little rum. It tasted good and was soothing, but it didn’t cure anything. This time around I have been drinking lots of tea (and water and juice) with honey. Mmmm, tea with honey is yummy.

This article on That’s Fit: Can a Little Booze Help Tackle a Cold? says alcohol dehydrates. But some studies show that alcohol could help prevent the cold from coming on in the first place. The New York times also reported that two large studies have found that although moderate drinking will not cure colds, it can help keep them at bay.

I haven’t felt like drinking this week anyway. Plus I am trying to keep my alcohol to a minimum and to weekends–calories, calories. And it appears from what I researched the consensus is you shouldn’t drink when you are sick as you need to take in as many fluids as you can and alcohol dehydrates you. Drinking alcohol will not kill germs (I do like to use that one) or cure your cold. But also, one drink while you are sick won’t cause much harm.

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  • Jen

    An older (and old-world) friend used to tell me that for a cold, take two shots of rum before bed, wrap yourself in super warm clothes and at least two blankets (whether or not you’re cold), and “sweat it out” over night. Oh, and lots and lots of garlic. 🙂

    I have never tried this method, but I do love hot tea with honey (or even plain hot water if I’m tired of tea) when I’m feeling sick. I think that hot (or warm) liquid just makes my throat calm down, vs drinking cold water.