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 ORS Day is celebrated every year on 29th July to highlight the importance of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) as a cost-effective method of health intervention. Acute diarrhoeal diseases are one of the leading causes of mortality in infants and young children in many developing countries. According to WHO, diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. Diarrhoea, which is frequently caused by poor sanitation and hygiene, can have serious, even deadly results, typically as a result of diarrhoea-related dehydration. It particularly affects infants, children and old people. Diarrhoea generally lasts for several days, and leaves the body without water and salts that are necessary for survival. Most people who die from diarrhoea actually die from severe dehydration and fluid loss from the body.

Dehydration from diarrhoea can be prevented by giving extra fluids at home, or it can be treated simply and effectively by giving adequate glucose-electrolyte solution called Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution. ORS Jodi (ORS and Zinc) has proven to be successful in the prevention and management of acute diarrhoea and dehydration.

What is ORS?

Oral rehydration salts contain a variety of salts (electrolytes) and sugar. The combination of electrolytes and sugar stimulates water and electrolyte absorption from the gut. It therefore prevents or reverses dehydration and replaces lost salts in conditions such as diarrhoea and vomiting.ORS is available in the market in a powder form in sachets/ readymade solutions or one can also easily make it at home as well.

All we need to know:

How to make the ORS drink which is available in powder form?

  1. Put the contents of the ORS packet in a clean container. Check the packet for directions and add the amount of clean water as indicated. Too little water could make the diarrhoea worse.
  2. Add water only. Do not add ORS to milk, soup, fruit juice or any soft drinks. Do not add sugar.
  3. Stir well, and feed it to the child from a clean cup. Do not use a bottle.

How much ORS drink can be given?

  • Encourage the child to drink as much as possible. 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. Give 1-2 teaspoon every 2-3 minutes.
  • A child aged 2 years or older needs at least 1/2 to 1 whole large (250-millilitre) cup of the ORS drink after each watery stool.
  • If the child vomits- wait for 10 minutes. Give a teaspoonful every 2-3 minutes.
  • If the child is on breast feeding, continue it along with ORS.

How do I prepare an ORS solution at home?

If ORS packets are not available, you can prepare it at home as well.

  • Clean Water - 1 litre - 5 cupful (each cup about 200 ml.)
  • Sugar - Six level teaspoons (1 teaspoon = 5grams)
  • Salt - Half level teaspoon
  • Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves

The home-made solution is adequate in most cases and is very effective for rehydration. Be very careful to mix the correct amounts. Too much sugar can make the diarrhoea worse and too much salt can be extremely harmful to the child.

Types of ORS- Rice based, Trisodium citrate, Low osmolarity and Super ORS.

Rehydration with intravenous fluids is needed in cases of severe dehydration.

Can the ORS solution be stored? The ORS solution should be covered and not kept for more than 24 hours, due to the risk of bacterial contamination.

Can ORS be used for everyone? ORS is safe and can be used to treat anyone suffering from diarrhoea, before a detailed diagnosis is done by the doctor. Adults need rehydration treatment as much as children, although children must always be treated immediately because they become dehydrated more quickly.

What happens if the ORS is prepared with dirty water? The benefits of fluid replacement would be lost if you use contaminated water. Boil and cool the water before use. In situations where it is difficult to boil water, use the filtered water possible.

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