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Oral Rehydration Solution ORS - What You Need To Know

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): The Quick Solution To Dehydration

Oral rehydration solution (ORS) is a blend of minerals that replace lost fluids due to diarrhoea, vomiting, and gastroenteritis. When a child is dehydrated, electrolyte drink offers a simple, effective and inexpensive way to help their body regain the fluids lost.

According to the World Health Organisation, diarrhoea ranks second with the highest number of deaths in children below five years, about 525,000 a year. It’s a severe disease that can cause death in less than a week if not acted upon immediately. Using a hydration drink is the quickest way parents can control dehydration from the illness at home as the child gets medication. 

Diarrhoea doesn’t affect children only; adults can also suffer from the disease. But apart from the illness, adults can also undergo dehydration from activities such as vigorous exercise, vomiting, excessive consumption of alcohol, among others.

How Do You Prepare ORS?

ORS is available commercially as ready-to-drink solutions or as a powder in sachets with directions to create a mixture. You’ll get rehydration salts in pharmaceutical outlets, health centers, shops.

If you purchase it in a sachet, you’ll have to prepare a mixture with water. Always use cool boiled water in the proper proportions as directed by the instructions. Using less liquid and too much salt can cause an electrolyte imbalance and worsen dehydration.

Another crucial point to note is that you should use only water with the rehydration powder. The solution already have the proportions of the electrolytes the body needs to rehydrate. Using other liquids such as milk, fruit juice, soft drinks, or soups can cause an imbalance and worsen the situation. Also, you should not add sugar or boil. The solution has a nasty taste but is effective if used correctly.

How Do You Take Oral Rehydration Solutions?

Children under two years should take at least 125ml of Oral Rehydration Solutions after passing a loose stool every time. For those who are two years or older, they need at least 250ml every time they defecate loose stool. It can be challenging to get the child to drink the mixture due to the somewhat unpleasant taste, but always encourage them to take as much as possible.

If you or your child cannot take the full dose at a go, try to take small sips over a long time. When properly ingested, recovery from dehydration can start to occur in 3 to 4 hours.

There isn’t too much ORS given to a child or adult, so if not sure how much you should give them, make them drink as much as they can. Plus, the rehydration salts do not have any side effects. However, you shouldn’t give the child the solution for more than three days if treating diarrhoea unless instructed by a doctor.

What’s an Alternative Remedy If ORS Isn’t Available?

If you don’t have quick access to ORS, you can make one yourself at home using sugar, salt, and clean water. Mix six level teaspoons sugar with half level teaspoon salt and dissolve using one liter of water. Take proper caution not to use too much sugar as it can worsen diarrhoea, while too much salt can cause further electrolyte imbalance.