The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu

Rhinology. 2008 Dec;46(4):271-5.


Hot drinks are a common treatment for common cold and flu but there are no studies reported in the scientific and clinical literature on this mode of treatment. This study investigated the effects of a hot fruit drink on objective and subjective measures of nasal airflow, and on subjective scores for common cold/flu symptoms in 30 subjects suffering from common cold/flu. The results demonstrate that the hot drink had no effect on objective measurement of nasal airflow but it did cause a significant improvement in subjective measures of nasal airflow. The hot drink provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness, whereas the same drink at room temperature only provided relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough and sneezing. The effects of the drinks are discussed in terms of a placebo effect and physiological effects on salivation and airway secretions. In conclusion the results support the folklore that a hot tasty drink is a beneficial treatment for relief of most symptoms of common cold and flu.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Beverages*
  • Common Cold / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / therapy*
  • Male
  • Nasal Obstruction / etiology
  • Nasal Obstruction / therapy*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Steam
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Steam