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Is Drinking Coffee Bad for You When Sick?

Starting your day with a cup of Joe when you’re sick: yes or no?

You can’t start the day without your morning coffee. But is it OK to drink coffee when you’re sick?

When a bug brings you down, your first instinct may be to grab a cup of joe to bring you back up to speed. Coffee has the caffeine to keep you going, but is it what your body needs to fight a cold? Registered dietitian, Ashley Reaver, MS, RD, CSSD explains that there are both pros and cons to drinking coffee while you’re sick.

Drinking Coffee When You’re Sick:

The Pros

“Coffee is high in antioxidants, which help to fight inflammation and bolster the immune system,” Reaver says. “A cup or two of coffee per day while you are sick can help to encourage your immune system while it's battling illness.” A study done by psychologists at the University of Bristol also found that the caffeine in coffee reduces the general grogginess associated with colds. Participants with colds reported after drinking coffee that it increased their alertness and performance at the same level as it did the healthy group.


The Cons

Although coffee has its benefits, it can be kind of a buzzkill to your recovery if you’re not careful. Reaver continues to explain that you should stop drinking it six to eight hours before you go to bed. Rest is critical when recovering from an illness and the caffeine in coffee can negatively impact your ability to get the sleep you need, explains Reaver. Be sure if you’re drinking coffee that you’re also taking down lots of water, too, so you don’t run the risk of dehydration.


The Verdict

So, the verdict is yes, you can drink coffee even when you’re feeling under the weather. To help restore your system, pair your morning cup of java with a big glass of water and an over the counter cold and flu medication like Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold as needed for powerful relief you can feel fast. At night, switch to tea and a nighttime formulation such as Theraflu Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough Hot Liquid Powder Medicine to help relieve your symptoms while you rest.

Man drinking cup of coffee next to a window

Be sure if you’re drinking coffee that you’re also taking down lots of water, too, so you don’t run the risk of dehydration – another critical part to your recovery.

Alternatives to Coffee When You’re Sick

If you’re not in the mood for coffee, there are plenty of other warm and cool beverages that are soothing to drink while you’re sick.


1. Water

It doesn’t get simpler than this! Make sure you’re hydrating with plenty of water while you’re sick with a cold or the flu to help your body recover.1,2


2. Sports Drinks

If you’re looking for something a little more exciting than H2O, flavored sports drinks can be a great-tasting alternative.2


3. Clear Broth

Finding that your appetite isn’t what it normally is when you’re sick? Sip on some clear broth to help stay hydrated and fill your stomach.1,2


4. Warm Lemon Water with Honey

Warm water with lemon and honey is a soothing, warm drink that can help loosen congestion and keep you hydrated in the process.1


5. Theraflu Hot Liquid Powders

For a warm beverage that packs a punch, try Theraflu Hot Liquid Powder for relief from cold and flu symptoms. Easy to brew and available in individual packets, Theraflu Hot Liquid Powders are available in soothing and delicious flavors like Green Tea & Honey Lemon, Chamomile & White Tea, and Apple Cinnamon. 

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