Is Coca-Cola an Effective Cure for Gastroenteritis? – Ouest-France evening edition

By Clementine MALIGORNE

A recurrence of winter gastroenteritis is observed every year, with a peak usually in January. In the face of this often viral disease, Coca-Cola is often presented as a “magic bullet.” Myth or Reality?

Every winter viruses cause epidemics such as flu, bronchiolitis or even gastrointestinal diseases. The first two have been raging across the country for several weeks and are fortunately declining, according to data from Public Health France. The third, still relatively weak compared to the same period last year, has not yet spoken its last word. In fact, recurrence of winter gastroenteritis is observed every year, with a peak usually in January. In the face of this often viral disease, Coca-Cola is often presented as a “magic bullet.” What is it really?

In its most common form, viral gastroenteritis is caused by “rotavirus” or “norovirus,” which circulates primarily in winter. These viruses cause diarrhea and/or vomiting with or without nausea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever. Although annoying, these symptoms are usually short-lived. Generally, spontaneous healing occurs within a few days without treatment. However, complications such as dehydration can occur, particularly in children or the elderly and frail.

“When we lose stool, when we have diarrhea or when we vomit, we lose ionic water containing sodium and potassium,” Minerals that help our bodies function normally, explains Dr. Denis Grasset, Gastroenterologist at the Bretagne Atlantique Hospital Center in valves (Morbihan).

To rehydrate properly and avoid complications that, in severe cases, can lead to hospitalization, “Rehydration Solutions” available in pharmacies, according to Dr. Grasset the best remedy. The goal is “Bring back water with some salt entering the body instead of leaving it”.

Also read: Honey, Verbena… Do “Grandmother’s Remedies” Really Cure a Cold?

Useful for rehydrating when you don’t have access to quality drinking water

Coca-Cola can be an alternative. But it’s not the only one, and it shouldn’t be resorted to anyway. “In the hospital, patients with severe gastrointestinal diseases are not given Coca-Cola, but antibiotics. And they have to be on a drip.” warns the gastroenterologist. According to him, the advantage of Coca-Cola is that it contains ions (sodium and potassium) and water: “If we only consume water, we risk not having enough mineral salts,” says the doctor. But other household remedies, such as broth or rice water or herbal teas, “works well too”.

The big advantage of Coca-Cola according to this gastroenterologist is “in countries where you don’t have easy access to a sterile rehydration solution, where the water is sometimes contaminated”, he clarifies. “In these particular cases, Coca-Cola has good press because it’s everywhere. »

And should you drink it with or without sparkling water? “The tingly is interesting because it ’empties’ the stomach. If you don’t vomit, it stimulates the stomach passage a little “ replies the doctor. But what does he think counts in this drink, “It’s that there’s a little sugar and sodium and potassium”. In short: Coca-Cola does not heal, but allows you to rehydrate if you are in a place where you do not have access to quality drinking water.

You shouldn’t drink too much of it either. “Don’t take too much sugar with you either”. Among the other foods recommended in the case of “Gastro”: “Banana or chocolate are interesting because they provide potassium,” adds the specialist.

Coca-Cola is not effective in preventing gastro

On the prevention side, however, cola is not effective. The only recommended measure remains thorough hand washing with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic solution to limit virus transmission.

“The best prevention of complications of acute diarrhea is early rehydration with oral rehydration solutions (ORS), especially in infants,” highlighted Public Health France. And rotavirus vaccination is now recommended for infants.

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