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Homemade Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS)

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Summer is here and in most parts of the world it is not easy stepping out in the late morning to run errands and then returning home feeling dry in the mouth or parched in the throat. This is also the time of the year the schools break for their summer holidays and families travel overseas or across states to meet friends and family. What would you do if while on your break away from home, your child comes down with stomach flu or another infection that makes her/him lose body fluids through vomiting or diarrhea or both?

The first response would be to get in touch with a doctor or health care provider. It is possible that you are staying at a place far from a practicing doctor or hospital. Before you get to seeing a doctor and if the child has vomited more than once or passed loose stools more than twice, it would be reasonably safe to give her/him some oral rehydration solution to restore her/his fluid balance. One must be very mindful of dehydration, especially in the summer when children tend to perspire more.

Signs of dehydration may include slowing down physically or degrees of listlessness, skin beginning to lose turgor, a rising fever, etc. If the child is an infant you may try to gauge her/his level of dehydration before you get medical help by checking for a soft spot on the skull, assessing the suck mechanism, or loss of sweat in the armpits and groin. All are signs of potential significant dehydration. (Source: MedicineNet.com; Report Title: Dehydration; URL: http://www.medicinenet.com/dehydration/page2.htm#toce

You could make a jug of homemade oral rehydration solution (ORS) if a commercial sachet of ORS is not available at hand.

ORS may be any solution made from clean and potable water that also includes sodium, potassium and similar other electrolytes aiming to restore the body’s loss of fluids and electrolytes due to sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, exposure to sun and wind etc.* Though commercially available packs are widely available over the counter in most medical stores, you could make one at home.

Recipe for oral rehydration solution for a child with diarrhea or vomiting:

• 1 litre of potable (drinkable), clean water
• 6 teaspoons of sugar
• ½ teaspoon of salt

Add salt and sugar in 1 litre of water and mix well with a spoon until there are no traces of solid solute.

The child may be given as much of the ORS as s/he demands and should be given it frequently. If the child vomits after taking ORS, it will be advisable to wait for 10 minutes before administering the solution to her/him.

• It is important to discard any leftover ORS if 24 hours have lapsed from the time of making the solution. You can prepare fresh solution for the next day.
• It is also important to be aware that ORS will not stop either diarrhea or vomiting. It will only replace the lost body fluids.
• Do not neglect to seek a medical help as soon as you can, especially if the vomiting or loose stools continue.
(Source: Rehydration Project, The Mother and Child, Health and Education Trust; Article Name: Oral Rehydration Solutions Made At Home; URL: http://rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm)

* It must be noted that in case of medical emergencies where there has been considerable loss of body fluids (through loose stools, vomiting, sweating, burns, excessive intake of alcohol, malnutrition, fasting, diabetes or infections, etc.), it is important to get immediate medical attention and drink commercially prepared, WHO-approved or FDA-approved ORS formula in the recommended dosages and intervals mentioned on the sachets.


Reviewed July 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton

Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman (Publisher: Sterling Publishers. URL: http://www.sterlingpublishers.com/bookinfo.asp?na=9788120759732) and the upcoming The Urban Woman’s Integrated Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.