If you have strep throat, you might wonder if you can still drink your usual morning coffee. As long as you can tolerate the temperature, it doesn't matter if it's hot or cold coffee: It's OK for a sore throat. However, don't overdo it — you'll want to drink plenty of other liquids too, experts say.
Read more: The Best Drinks When You're Feeling Sick
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A Little Coffee Is OK
Strep throat, caused by the Streptococcus bacteria, may cause a sore throat, fever and swollen neck glands, as well as other symptoms, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). When you have strep throat, you may not feel like eating much, and it could be harder to tolerate some foods, says Pittsburgh-based Caroline West Passerrello, RDN, LDN, dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Swallowing may be painful.
However, it's important to stay hydrated when you're sick, and that means the more fluids, the better, Passerrello says. Even though most coffee has caffeine, it still can provide hydration if you don't overdo it. Up to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day is generally considered safe, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tea and of course water can help keep you hydrated, too.
Whether you drink hot versus cold coffee depends on what you can tolerate while you're sick, Passerrello says.
It's also OK to drink flavored coffee, but be mindful of what you add to your coffee, such as sweeteners and cream, Passerrello says, which can add calories and sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your added sugar content to 25 to 36 grams (6 to 9 teaspoons) a day, depending on your sex assigned at birth.
The Downside of Coffee When You're Sick
There are some drawbacks to drinking coffee when you have strep throat. First, a cup of caffeinated brewed coffee has an average of 96 grams of caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Have too much caffeine, and it may make you feel anxious. If you have strep throat and you're looking to get some extra rest, the caffeine could get in your way.
Keep an eye on your caffeine intake when you have strep throat, Passerrello says. Consider switching to decaf (only 2 grams of caffeine per cup) or drinking half caffeinated-half decaf.
Caffeinated coffee may also cause headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic — yet another thing you likely want to avoid when you have strep throat. After all, you're probably already uncomfortable.
The Best Foods and Drinks for Strep Throat
When you're sick with strep throat, eat soft foods that are also nutrient-rich, Passerrello recommends, such as:
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Unsweetened applesauce
If you prefer more liquid foods while you're sick, broth or smoothies can provide plenty of essential nutrients, Passerrello says.
What Not to Eat When You Have Strep Throat
With rest, a healthy soft-food diet, plenty of water and a reasonable amount of coffee or tea, you should be feeling better in no time.
However, there are some foods you should avoid when you have strep throat. Those include sharp foods like seeds and nuts, as well as spicy or acidic foods, such as orange juice, according to AAFP. All of those could irritate the throat, Passerrello says.
- Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Strep Throat”
- Mayo Clinic: “I've Been Seeing Ads That Say Caffeinated Drinks Hydrate You as Well as Water Does. Is This True?”
- American Heart Association: “Added Sugars”
- Mayo Clinic: “Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda, and More”
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.