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Do you feed a cold and starve a fever?

Or feed a fever and starve a cold?

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Also in this week's column:

Do you feed a cold and starve a fever?

Asked by Elektra Filipo of Apia, Samoa

Many people are confused about this. According to Dr Andrew Lloyd, an infectious disease physician in Sydney, Australia, "there is little medical evidence to support 'feed a cold, starve a fever'. In the context of an acute infection like influenza, the best treatment is for the patient to eat only if hungry."

According to Dr Holly Muggleston, of the School of Health and Applied Sciences at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia, "you do need to feed a fever. That is, you should get adequate fluid to reduce the risk of dehydration. And, in some cases, you need adequate kilojoules in order to prevent weight loss. This depends on the fever's temperature and duration".

So from the above, a non-physician standpoint of a humble anthropologist concludes that the way to go is "feed a fever" and "feed or starve a cold".

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

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