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ORS: Fight Dehydration, Save Life

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 29, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Oral Rehydration salts (ORS) is an inexpensive and effective approach to dehydration that provides electrolytes, glucose and water to the body.

A girl drinking ORSORS (oral rehydration salts) is a combination of dry salts and water which helps replace the fluids lost due to diarrhoea. The World Health Organization launched oral rehydration therapy (ORT) with home fluids and ORS in the 1978. The treatment has reduced mortality due to diarrhoea substantially, a fall from 5 million to 1.3 million deaths annually. Because of its remarkable success, ORS is widely acknowledged as the ‘most important medical advance of the century’.

ORS treatment is easily available, inexpensive and is easy to use. For over 25 years, WHO and UNICEF have been advocating a single formulation of glucose-based oral rehydration salts to prevent or treat dehydration from diarrhoea irrespective of the cause or age group affected. The ORS solution containing 90 mEq/l of sodium with a total osmolarity of 311 mOsm/l has proven to be  most effective and without apparent adverse effects.

When should ORS be used?

Parents must begin ORS when a child has three or more loose stools in a day. If child is over 6 months of age, 20 milligrams of zinc per day (tablet or syrup) for 10–14 days and if they are under 6 months of age, 10 milligrams per day (tablet or syrup) should be given.

How is ORS prepared?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing solution.
  • Before beginning to formulate the solution, read the packet label for directions.
  • Take a clean container and put the contents of the ORS packet in it.
  • Add the appropriate amount of clean water. If you don’t add correct water and it is less, it could make the diarrhoea worse.
  • Use only water for the formulation. Do not add ORS to milk, soup, fruit juice or soft drinks. And, do not add sugar.
  • Stir it well and feed it to the child from a clean cup. Never use a bottle.
  • If a child vomits, wait for ten minutes and give him/her ORS again.


Parents much encourage their child to drink as much as possible. According to rehydrate.org, a child under the age of 2 years needs at least 1/4 to 1/2 of a large (250-millilitre) cup of the ORS drink after each watery stool. Whereas, 2 years or older kids need at least 1/2 to 1 whole large (250-millilitre) cup of the ORS drink after each watery stool.

When to see a doctor?

Diarrhoea goes away within three to four days. If it does not, consult your health care provider. In the following cases, take the child to health care personnel.

  • If diarrhoea increases or is bloody.
  • If vomiting persists.
  • If child has high fever.
  • If child is lethargic.
  • If child is very thirsty.

 

 

Read more articles on Diarrhoea.

 

 

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