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Conventional advice for colds questioned

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LONDON (Reuters) -- Drinking plenty of fluids while suffering from a cold or respiratory infection could cause more harm than good, researchers said Friday.

Doctors often recommend drinking liquids to prevent dehydration but Chris Del Mar, of the University of Queensland in Australia, said not enough research has been done to prove it is good advice.

"We found data to suggest that giving fluids to patients with respiratory infections may cause harm," Del Mar said in a report in the British Medical Journal.

The body releases large amounts of a water-conserving hormone when a person has a respiratory infection such as a cold or bronchitis.

Drinking more when these levels are high could lead to fluid overload and a condition known as hyponatraemia, or low concentrations of sodium which is needed for normal body functions.

Del Mar and his team searched the medical literature and talked to experts but could not find any randomized controlled trials comparing the impact of increased or restricted water drinking during a cold.

"Until we have this evidence, we should be cautious about universally recommending increased fluids to patients, especially those with infections of the lower respiratory tract," Del Mar added.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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