On the one hand, your body’s aching and you feel feverish and exhausted. All you want to do is crawl into bed and never get out again.
On the other, it’s your best friend’s birthday and she’s having drinks tonight that you absolutely can’t miss.
But if you drag yourself out and find yourself with a glass of celebratory champers in your hand, is it okay to drink it if you have the flu?
Before we go into that, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to the flu.
You see, while some people use the terms interchangeably, having the flu is very different to having a common cold.
A cold can make you feel yuck, for sure. You generally feel rundown, and are sneezing, coughing and may have reduced appetite. You might also have a headache, or just feel generally not great.
But a cold is not the flu.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus and causes sudden onset of more severe symptoms. These include fever, chills, body aches, nausea and possibly vomiting. You may also have a dry cough but are less likely to be sneezing.
In a nutshell: If you have the flu, you pretty much feel dreadful.
So, is it okay to drink if I have the flu?
If you have a cold, you may start taking medication like antihistamines or cough suppressants.
The issue is, those medicines can have a sedating effect, and alcohol is also sedating. So if you’re taking any of those medications, you should avoid drinking alcohol.
But if you’re not taking any medicine, and you generally feel okay (apart from, say, having the sniffles), then it’s okay to drink a bit if you feel up to it.
Mind you, it’s not a great idea to get plastered if you have a cold. That’s because you’re more likely to become dehydrated when you have a cold – and, you guessed it – alcohol is also dehydrating.
Furthermore, research has found that drinking can compromise your immune system, making it more difficult to shake off your cold.
If you have the flu, chances are you won’t actually feel like drinking alcohol at all. (That is, if you can even yank yourself out of bed in the first place.)
And you really shouldn’t drink alcohol if you have the flu.
After all, if you’re feverish and unwell, alcohol could make you feel worse. It can also exacerbate dehydration.
If you have the flu, drinking alcohol might also impact on any medication you might be taking.
While you need to steer clear of drinking alcohol when you have the flu, you do need to keep your fluids up in general. That’s best achieved by taking small sips of fluid often.
Don’t stress if you don’t feel like eating while you have the flu, as long as you can keep your fluids up.
The bottom line is, if you have a cold and you’re not on any medications that might interfere with alcohol, then by all means you can have a drink if you like.
But if you’ve been struck by the flu, you shouldn’t drink alcohol.
The only good news is that, if you’ve actually got the flu, you probably won’t feel like drinking anyway.