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