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How Does Oral Re-hydration Works And Why Is It Important?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

ORS refers to oral rehydration solution – a simple but life-saving beverage of water, salt and sugar formulated in the late 1960s by American and Bengali doctors and researchers working in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Unlike saline intravenous drips to treat severe dehydration from diarrhea, Oral Rehydration Treatment was cheap, did not require unusual, sterile equipment and could be made at home. The potential of ORS in poor countries was enormous.



Oral Rehydration Treatment

The use of oral fluid replacements in the dealing with diarrhea can be documented in perhaps every culture. Diarrhea was known to Hippocrates, and elaborate treatment for diarrhea is provided in the Vedic texts. In rural Mississippi, for example, a mixture of flour and water is recommended, and another folk remedy suggests apple extracts as a binding agent for mild diarrhea prior to a visit to the pediatrician.

A water-soluble combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates, unlike other liquids you could drink to replenish what you’ve lost, the proportion of salts and sugar in an ORS is exactly what your body requires to heal. . When you experience dehydration due to gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, or vomiting, they are used to restore the salts and water that your body loses. Pharmacies sell commercially accessible ORS consumables like in beverages, ice blocks, sachets, and effervescent tablets for preparing solutions. They are frequently available in a variety of flavors. If rehydration drinks are not accessible, home-made salt/sugar combinations are used in underdeveloped countries, but they must be prepared carefully because too much salt can be harmful.

Oral rehydration solution can be hailed as discovery of the century in medical field. It has saved more lives than any other medicines.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

How ORS Works

Rapid evacuation of fluids from the body, which can be caused by  cholera  or diarrhea diseases, may lead to chronic dehydration and eventually death. Oral Rehydration Salts  are a solution of sugars and salts which helps to slow the evacuation of fluids, allowing for the absorption of electrolytes in the intestines which gives birth to the Oral Rehydration Treatment  

The scientific way to put it is ORS works because of the Sodium Glucose Co-Transport System

  • The jejunum contains SGLT-1 transporter proteins.
  • If 2:1 ratio of Na+ and glucose is consumed, SGLT-1 actively transports both across epithelial wall. Osmotic imbalance is created.
  • Water is immediately pulled into vascular system. Fluid and electrolytes instantly replenished, avoiding most of GI tract. ORS contains this precise ratio of ingredients.

Importance of ORS

First, ORS is  extremely cost effective. Compared to traditional IV therapy, ORS costs just a few rupees. This makes ORS much easier to deploy in major humanitarian crises and more patients are able to be treated. Additionally, ORS  can be formulated and administered at home  as soon as symptoms appear. Instead of going to a hospital for IV treatment, which may already be difficult for patients in developing countries, rehydration can begin right away. Finally, ORS  is non-invasive; it doesn’t require needles, which can lead to infection if not administered properly. Plus, it doesn’t require guidance to administer.

You should feel better within a couple of weeks after getting infected with covid and getting appropriate treatment, if your symptoms persist beyond 4-8 weeks, you should follow up with your doctor to rule out long covid.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Composition of ORS

The website of World Health Organization states that a new formula for ORS has been devised. It states ”The new improved formula is the result of extensive research sponsored by WHO’s Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The study’s findings suggest that using the low-sodium, low-glucose ORS formulation reduces the need for intravenous fluids by 33 percent. The effect of this reduction could result in fewer children requiring hospitalization, fewer secondary infections, a diminished need to handle blood with its potentially dangerous consequences, and lower health care costs.”

The solution can be made at home too. Add 6 level teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 litre of clean water. Be very careful to mix the correct amounts for the right Oral Rehydration Treatment    . Too much sugar can make the diarrhea worse. Too much salt can be extremely harmful. Making the mixture a little too diluted (with more than 1 litre of clean water) is not harmful.

World ORS day

Annually July 29 is ORS day. Recognized in 2002 with the award of the Pollen Pediatric Research Prize to Dr’s Dilip Mahalanabis, Norbert Hirschhorn, David R. Nalin, and Nathaniel F. Pierce, the day is set aside to raise awareness about utilization of the oral rehydration treatment. When marking the day, people are encouraged to:

  • Recognize symptoms of dehydration.
  • Ensure that enough water is taken in to prevent dehydration.
  • Urinate constantly to rid the body of unwanted waste, toxins and fat.
  • Stay healthy by drinking plenty of water.

Things to remember

  • Unless your doctor has informed you otherwise, you should not use oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea for longer than 2–3 days.
  • While mixing the oral rehydration salts, just use water; do not use milk or juice, and never add extra sugar or salt. This is because rehydration salts have the ideal balance of sugar and salts to aid the body.
  • You must use the correct amount of water to make up the medicine, as too much or too little can cause an imbalance in the salts in the body.
  • Adults and   youngsters should drink 3 quarts or litres of ORS per day until they feel better. Continue to try to drink the ORS if you’re vomiting. Even if you vomit, your body will retain some of the fluids and minerals you require.

Also Read: What Causes Dry Nose at Night: Investigating Potential Causes and Solutions

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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