For Flu, Gatorade or Water?

Gatorade Water

When you have the flu, doctors would usually advise that you get plenty of rest, eat nutritious food if you feel up to it, and most importantly, drink plenty of fluids. As fever usually comes along with the flu, it increases the amount of water your body loses. Therefore, you need to replace what is lost by drinking more.

If you're not eating, then taking your fluid in the form of soup may be a good idea. Also, electrolyte solutions like Gatorade and Powerade may be good options, but for most people, plain water is usually sufficient. It is always recommended that we take electrolytes from natural resources if we are not in exercise or dehydration. It's likely you won't feel like doing much activity, so staying in bed is fine. Get up when you feel you can.

Though water is recommended and naturally your body's favorite liquid, Gatorade or Pedialyte drinks are more enjoyable to children. If your child has trouble ingesting water, you may want to try a more favorable approach. Any child who can drink fruit juice, milk, soft drinks, and similar beverages can drink Gatorade. But why should someone drink sports drinks when they are sick? The answer lies in electrolytes. Electrolytes are required for cells and organs in the body to function properly. They are not only lost from sweat but also vomiting and diarrhea can cause the body to lose a significant amount of electrolytes. Repetitive vomiting and diarrhea is common with the stomach flu. Gatorade contains significant amounts of electrolytes, sodium, and potassium that can help replenish the body with all of the important elements being lost.

In fact, scientific research shows that physically active children will drink more Gatorade than water and therefore stay better hydrated. (Adults also benefit in a similar fashion.) Gatorade provides about half the calories of identical serving size of fruit juice or soft drink. By U.S. FDA standards, an eight-ounce serving of Gatorade is a low-sodium food. Gatorade has 110 mg of sodium, the same as an eight-ounce glass of milk or one slice of bread. For infants, Gatorade does not pose any risk to infants; however, because an infant's fluids needs are normally met by drinking breast milk or formula, consumption of beverages other than formula or breast milk may deprive the infant of additional necessary nutrients (e.g. fat, protein, and vitamins).

Pediatricians often recommend Gatorade for people who are suffering from mild dehydration due to diarrhea or the flu. However, as is the case with any illness, it is best to consult a pediatrician to determine the best needs for the individual person based on their specific symptoms. In addition to drinking lots of fluid, you may want to follow some other basic advice while fighting the flu. If the pain is unbearable, some over-the-counter medicines may make you feel better. These include decongestants, antihistamines, and pain medicines.

But remember that these products are not necessary for most people, and they may even be harmful to some people, particularly those with heart disease, high blood pressure, or other respiratory problems. Cough medicines may help, but it's most important to be drinking enough fluid. Over-the-counter analgesics, or pain medicines, also suppress fevers, which could prolong the course of the infection.

Still, take medicine if you feel very uncomfortable. Older people and those with heart and lung disease may also need to suppress the fever to reduce the strain on their hearts and lungs. Stick with non-aspirin products, since aspirin has been associated with Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal complication that mostly affects children and adolescents.

There are four antiviral drugs for the treatment and prevention of influenza. For influenza A, there is amantadine (also sold under the brand name Symmetrel) and rimantadine (which has a brand name of Flumadine). To treat and prevent both influenza A and B, there is zanamivir (with brand name Relenza) and oseltamivir (also known as Tamiflu). All of these drugs are oral pills except Relenza, which is inhaled like asthma medication. Secondary infections may also need to be treated.

When should I seek emergency medical assistance?

  • Breathing fast or having trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • No tears when crying
  • Has other health conditions and develops flu symptoms
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

Water is a natural thirst quencher that is free from sugar and calories. Gatorade is marketed as a popular thirst quencher made of artificial ingredients but does provide the body with electrolytes. In some cases when we do have the stomach flu it can help to drink Gatorade to help hydrate the body of the lost electrolytes and water to help rid the body of toxins. Gatorade does have rich electrolytes for hydration purposes after all, but in most cases when we are healthy and happy it is more beneficial to drink all-natural beverages, none better than water!

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