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Will bed rest help me get better faster when I'm sick?

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:12pm

A huge review of the medical literature showed that there is no evidence that bed rest helps you to heal faster from any medical condition. During World War II, American soldiers were drafted and sent to do their basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. A major epidemic of flu occurred affecting almost all the troops. Half of the soldiers were kept in bed, while the other half stayed in the vigorous exercise of basic training. Both groups required the same amount of time to recover, although those forced to undergo the rigorous demands of basic training complained more.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia searched the medical literature from 1966 to 1999 and found only 39 studies testing whether bed rest benefits any medical condition. Twenty-four studies showed that bed rest was of little or no benefit in preventing side effects of medical procedures such as spinal anesthesia, spinal fluid withdrawal, and multiple x ray procedures. Fifteen studies showed no benefit in treating medical conditions such as low back pain, spontaneous labor, high blood pressure during pregnancy, uncomplicated heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis or infectious hepatitis. So the next time you feel sick, stay in bed if you like, but it probably won't help you recover faster.

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