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What is Oral Rehydration Therapy?

The giving of fluid by mouth to prevent and/or correct the dehydration that is a result of diarrhea is called Oral Rehydration Therapy(ORT). Treatment using home remedies to prevent dehydration must be started as soon as diarrhea begins. In spite of this dehydration does occur or if children or adults have not been given extra drinks then they must be treated with a special drink made with oral rehydration salts(ORS).

What are the oral rehydration therapy phases?

Two phases of treatment encompass in ORT:

  1. Rehydration phase-To replace existing losses, water and electrolytes are administered as oral rehydration solution(ORS). Over 3-4 hours, this deficit is replaced quickly.
  2. Maintenance phase- Both replacements of ongoing fluid and electrolyte losses and adequate dietary intake are included in this.

Fluid losses from vomiting and diarrhea are replaced in an ongoing manner during both phases. After the dehydration is corrected, an age-appropriate, unrestricted diet should also be instituted. Breastfeeding should continue during this phase as well as during the maintenance phase if the patient is breastfed. Upon Oral Rehydration, formula-fed infants should continue their usual formula immediately. Lactose-reduced or lactose-free formulas are unnecessary. The banana-rice-applesauce-toast (BRAT) diet is unnecessarily restrictive and can provide suboptimal nutrition.

How to take Oral Rehydration Therapy?

You can take or give ORS in frequent, small amounts of fluid by spoon or syringe. For a child who refuses to drink a nasogastric tube is used. It allows continuous administration of Ors Oral Rehydration Solution at a slow, steady rate for patients with persistent vomiting. The majority can be rehydrated successfully with oral fluids if limited volumes of ORS are administered every 5 minutes with a gradual increase in the amount consumed.

In mild to moderate dehydration, you can take the dose of 50-100 ml/kg over 3-4 hours in the rehydration phase.

Ongoing losses from diarrhea and vomiting are replaced with Oral Rehydration Solution For Adults during both phases. One ml of ORS should be administered for each gram of diarrhea stool if the losses can be measured accurately.

It is a medical emergency in severe dehydration and requires emergent IV therapy with rapid infusion of 20 ml/kg of isotonic saline. This therapy can be later changed to ORT as the patient’s condition improves.

Is ORT effective?

Oral rehydration therapy is effective, cheap, and easy to administer. Mixing eight level teaspoons of sugar and one level teaspoon of salt in one liter of clean water is a homemade solution for Best Oral Rehydration Therapy. In more than 90 percent of patients with acute diarrhea, ORT has been shown to reverse dehydration.

How much does Oral Rehydration Therapy cost?

ORT is a much cheaper treatment compared to IVT in addition. It costs around $0.50 according to UNICEF to provide a course of Oral Rehydration Powder in lower-income countries and while the saline solution used for IVT is not much more expensive. The additional costs of hospital stay, medical staff, equipment, and a longer course of treatment amount to a significant difference in the price of treatment.

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