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Feed a Cold and a Fever, Experts Say

Ensuring you get the right nutrition is key when you’re fighting a seasonal respiratory virus, regardless of how you’re feeling. That’s the advice coming from the experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Dr. Pedro Piedra, a professor specializing in molecular virology, microbiology, and pediatrics at Baylor, points out that fever is one of our body’s ways of defending against infections. And to keep these defenses strong, you need energy from a well-balanced diet – that’s why they often recommend comforting foods like chicken noodle soup during sickness.

Even if you don’t feel like eating much when you’re unwell, Dr. Piedra suggests pushing through and grabbing a spoon or fork. He also explains that cold weather increases the risk of catching the flu, common cold, and COVID-19 because people tend to gather indoors. The colder temperatures also allow viruses to stick around on surfaces for longer, and the humidity in Houston makes it easier for viruses to survive outside a host.

Dr. Piedra touches on a common belief that being in a cold environment with wet hair can make you sick. While it won’t directly give you a virus, it might weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

Besides eating well, staying hydrated is crucial when you’re unwell. Warm tea is recommended not only for hydration but also for soothing sore throats. A warm saltwater gargle can also help by easing irritation and removing excess mucus from the throat.

If you’ve recently fallen ill, Dr. Piedra suggests getting tested for flu or COVID. If the results are positive, talking to your doctor about antiviral medications early in the infection is important for their effectiveness. If your symptoms worsen, especially if you’re having trouble breathing or just don’t feel well, reaching out to your physician is crucial.

And, of course, prevention is always better than cure. Dr. Piedra stresses the importance of getting vaccines for flu, COVID, and RSV to protect against respiratory infections. Wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and regular testing are also highlighted as effective ways to minimize the risk of infection.

In summary, the advice from Baylor College of Medicine promotes a well-rounded approach to health during respiratory illnesses, including proper nutrition, hydration, early intervention, and preventive measures to support your immune system.

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