World ORS Day is observed every year on July 29 to raise awareness about using ORS, which is a simple, convenient and effective way to treat dehydration and diarrhoea. One can purchase it from a medical store or prepare it at home with an easily formula. The goal of oral rehydration therapy is to replenish the body’s fluid levels. It’s typically used to treat moderate dehydration due to diarrhoea, vomiting, or other conditions. (Also read: Tips to avoid infections, diarrhoea, viral fever, conjunctivitis in monsoon)
“ORS has been known to mankind since a long time. Its beneficial value has made it a household favourite whenever someone suffers from diarrhoea. ORS (oral rehydration salts) is a special combination of dry salts that is mixed with safe water. It can help replace the fluids lost due to diarrhoea,” says Dr Ajay Agarwal, Director & HOD – Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida.
Why diarrhoeal infections are dangerous; role of ORS in treating them
Diarrhoeal infections inhibit the body’s ability to absorb salts and water and fluid is lost faster than it can be replaced – leading to dehydration. These repeated attacks of diarrhoea are a major cause of malnutrition and faltering height and weight gain; and, in turn, undernourished children suffer more severe and often more frequent attacks of diarrhoea.
“Diarrhoea impairs nutritional status, as the child loses appetite and eats less; nutrients are poorly absorbed by the intestines during and after the diarrhoea episode. The child becomes increasingly susceptible to other acute infections. Thus, diarrhoea and associated malnutrition may contribute to death. With more than 10 percent loss, shock may set in, stupor occurs, kidney function is disrupted, peripheral blood vessels collapse, acids build up (metabolic acidosis), and a person may die.
All this can be prevented and controlled just by adding ORS during the initial phase of dehydration till the actual treatment sets in,” Dr Kiran Rukadikar, Bariatric Physician and Obesity Consultant, celebrity nutritionist, and founder of DietQueen App.
“Dehydration due to diarrhoea or vomiting leads to loss of fluids as well as electrolytes. Plain water won’t replenish the electrolyte losses hence ORS is helpful in such cases. Use of oral rehydration therapy has been estimated to decrease the risk of death from diarrhoea by up to 93%. ORS is less invasive than the other strategies for fluid replacement, specifically intravenous (IV) fluid replacement. Mild to moderate dehydration seen in an emergency department is best treated with ORS. In most countries, packets are available from health centres, pharmacies, markets and shops which can be easily made at home,” says Dr Ajay Agarwal.
How to prepare ORS using salt and sugar at home as share by Dr Rukadikar:
Recipe for making a 1 litre ORS solution using sugar, salt and water
Clean water – 1 litre – 5 cups (each cup is about 200 ml.)
Sugar – Six level teaspoons
Salt – Half level teaspoon
Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves.