Drinking water throughout the day is an important way to keep hydrated and to maintain proper bodily functions. When you’re not drinking enough water, your excretory system, muscular performance, mobility, and overall well-being may be affected. This is not at all surprising, being that the human body is made up of at least 60% fluids.
When we think about staying hydrated, we can’t help but think about is ugly counterpart; dehydration. When due to lack of water, being sick or even over exercising, we become dehydrated, water alone might not cut it, so we use oral rehydration methods.
Here are 5 things you should know about oral rehydration:
#1. What Is Oral Rehydration?
This encompasses a few different orally delivered methods of rehydration other than water. Many hospitals will use oral rehydration therapy or oral rehydration solutions for their patients.
Oral rehydration solution(ORS), also called oral rehydration salts, is a mixture of electrolytes and carbohydrates. If you’re losing water at a really fast pace, for instance if you have diarrhea or are vomiting, you’re losing fluids and electrolytes. In these instances, replenishing with water may not be enough.
Some may be tempted to take energy drinks and other beverages. While these also contain water, they carry an insane amount of sugar and calories, which are not good for your health.
Soda, juices, tea, coffee and sports drinks have high sugar content that may make your diarrhea worse. Unlike these beverages, the proportion of salts and sugar in an oral rehydration solution is a perfect fit for proper rehydration.
#2. When is an Oral Rehydration Needed?
A person loses water through sweating, breathing, and excreting wastes, on a daily basis. Other conditions that aggravate dehydration include severe hot weather or performing exercises under the heat of the sun.
These lost fluids should be replenished by adjusting your fluid intake and this can fix mild to moderate dehydration. However, in some cases, where a person is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, an oral rehydration solution is needed to prevent the potentially fatal impact of severe dehydration.
For most people, the most telling sign of dehydration is feeling thirsty. However, in moderate or severe cases, it can trigger or manifest through these danger signs:
- Weak pulse
- Breathing difficulties or hyperventilation
- Struggling to drink fluids
- Extremely dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dark yellow-colored pee
- Dry mouth
- Lack of focus
#3. How To Take An Oral Rehydration Solution?
Most oral rehydration solutions are commercially available, and you can buy them in either powder or liquid forms, in different flavors that appeal especially to children. Your health provider will be able to provide you with more information and special instructions on ORS.
If you got your ORS in liquid form, transfer contents to a clean glass and start drinking. It helps to cool the solution and use straw, as you’re recommended to take sips.
For powdered ORS, check the instructions on the packet first so you know how much water you need to mix it with. Use only clean water and only prepare the adequate amount of water, as mixing too little of it can actually make your diarrhea worse. The solution will taste a bit funny so don’t attempt to add any other beverage such as soda and juice. Once you’re done mixing water and the contents of the packet, stir it to allow the powder to be fully dissolved.
Take ORS immediately by taking a few sips. Continue taking the solution even if your vomiting spells and runny stools continue. In most cases, oral rehydration salts may start working quickly and should be able to address dehydration in 4 hours. If you don’t get better on the second day, you should seek medical care.
#4. What If You Can’t Buy An ORS?
If there’s no commercially-available oral rehydration solution in your area, you can create a simple mixture in your home. Here’s how to make a one-liter of ORS:
- Prepare 1 liter of clean water
- Mix six teaspoonfuls of sugar
- Stir in a half teaspoonful of salt
- Mix all ingredients together until sugar is fully dissolved
Measure the ingredients properly, as too much of either salt or sugar can be harmful or make your condition worse.
#5. How Much ORS Do You Need?
Generally speaking, older children and adults may take about 100milliliters (ml) of ORS every five minutes, or until the patient gets better.
ORS dosage depends mainly on the age of the patient, you can also use their weight to calculate their dosage, multiply the patient’s weight (in kilograms) by 75,for instance, an adult weighing 100-kgs may take 7,500ml of ORS within the period. It’s recommended that smaller children can have one cup after every trip to the toilet for loose stool movement.
Dehydration can lead to a serious and potentially fatal condition, if left unaddressed. Small children and the elderly are especially vulnerable. If you have either in your home, consider keeping a regular supply of oral rehydration solution. If not, make your own and start rehydrating as soon as possible, once the need arises.