Here's What You Should Drink When You're Sick

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Whether you're sick or not, you want to stay hydrated. But if you're vomiting, have diarrhea, or are sweating a lot, it's easier to become dehydrated. And that will just make you feel even worse — and make it harder for your body to fight off whatever sickness you're dealing with. But is there anything in particular you can drink to feel better?
When it comes to staying hydrated while sick, water is your best option — and should be your first choice. It's boring, I know, but water will keep your sore throat and airways moist, the Mayo Clinic explains. That will reduce the pain in your throat and make it easier to cough up any mucus or blow out any snot.
But, depending on your symptoms, other drinks may also help you feel a bit better. For instance, hot water or tea with lemon and honey can help soothe a sore throat and cough. A mild soup or broth will also do the trick. For a serious throat infection (e.g. strep), you might want to do a saltwater gargle, too, which helps ease inflamed throat tissue.
If it's your stomach that's bothering you, you'll want to make sure you're drinking things that are easily digested and, if possible, contain some salt. Your body needs electrolytes (including salt) to absorb water. And that's usually not a huge problem because you can get those from food. But, if you've been dealing with an upset stomach, you probably haven't been eating that much. So taking in those electrolytes without too much diarrhea-inducing sugar is a great idea. That's why we'd suggest opting for coconut water or a couple of crackers (along with plain water, of course) rather than a sports drink.
However, you should try to stay away from caffeine, sodas (including ginger ale), and alcohol as much as possible. All of those can irritate your already annoyed digestive system. Also, despite internet rumors, eating and drinking dairy foods doesn't actually increase your body's mucus production. But it might make your mucus feel thicker, which means you probably don't want to be drinking milk when you have a cold, anyway. Other than that, stick with water — and your doc's orders — and you'll be well on your way to feeling better.

More from Wellness

R29 Original Series