Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a type of fluid replacement used to prevent and treat dehydration, due to diarrhea, vomiting, flu, fever and some certain medications (such as diuretics).
An appropriately measured Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) is poured into a cup of water and drunk as needed to restore lost fluid and become rehydrated. The recommended ORS we buy in the pharmacy contains modest amounts of electrolytes, specifically sodium, glucose and potassium. Having the right amount of fluids and minerals is important for the normal functioning of the body. Use of oral rehydration therapy has been estimated to decrease the risk of death from diarrhea by up to 93% for both children and adults.
How Serious is Dehydration?
Mild dehydration may present non-serious symptoms like thirst, yellow urine, moderate weakness etc. However, severe hydration is a medical emergency which can be fatal! Our body fights infections better when well hydrated. This is why people who have bacterial or viral infections are advised to drink enough water or better still ORS to recover faster.
How dehydrated are you?
You can sense how dehydrated you probably are by pinching or folding your skin between the pads of two fingers. If you pinch the skin on your arm, it should quickly return to its normal appearance once you let go. This is known as skin turgor.
If the skin appears to stick together under the surface, it is usually a sign that you are severely dehydrated.
In children, you can predict severe dehydration when no tear accompany crying, their diapers are dry for longer than usual or they feel sleepy or fatigued and sluggish.
How to prepare an Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution at home
If ORS packets are not available, make a DIY (Do It Yourself) oral rehydration solution at home using the following:
Recipe: ORS solution requires Sugar, Salt and Water
- Clean Water – 1 litre / 5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)
- Sugar – Six (6) teaspoons
- Salt – Half ½ teaspoon
- Stir the mixture till the sugar and salt dissolve.
Enjoy your home-made ORS solution. This home-made solution is adequate in most cases.
Direction for use:
Drink sips of the ORS (or give the solution to the dehydrated person) every 5 minutes until urination becomes normal. Adults and grown children should drink at least 3 quarts or litres of ORS a day until they are well. If you are vomiting, continue to drink the ORS. Your body will retain some of the fluids and electrolytes needed as you vomit. Remember to take sips of the liquids slowly.
Feed children slowly with teaspoons or tablespoons.