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Legend of the Hot Toddy

Some say the term “hot toddy” springs from an 18th century Scottish custom of sweetening the smoky flavor of Scotch whiskey. Others say it comes from an Indian drink made of fermented tree sap.

Whatever its origin, a hot toddy is a popular wintertime drink that blends spirits, often whiskey, with honey and lemon in a hot liquid like water, tea, coffee or cider. In the U.S., January 11 is celebrated as National Hot Toddy Day.  

Throughout history, the drink has been touted as a curative for head colds, but is it true? Not according to the American Lung Association. While a hot toddy may help you sleep, it won’t restore your health. In fact, because alcohol is dehydrating, it can make symptoms worse. 

Here’s what the American Lung Association recommends to combat your winter cold: 

1.  Use over-the-counter medications for temporary relief of cold symptoms.

2.  Drink eight glasses of water and/or juice daily to stay hydrated and keep your nose, throat and sinuses from drying out.

3.  Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they can lead to dehydration.

4.  Check in with your healthcare provider if you develop any of the following:

  • Unusually severe symptoms
  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus headaches
  • Worsened cough
  • Symptoms of asthma or other chronic lung problem
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