ORS: What is it, Usage, Benefits, Side Effects
ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) is a drink made up of water, sugar, and electrolytes that helps replenish fluids and electrolytes lost due to dehydration. It can be effective in treating dehydration caused by various reasons like glucose loss or salt loss from the body. This solution aids in treating dehydration happens mainly due to vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating.
Key contents of ORS:
- Sodium chloride
- Potassium Chloride
- Sodium Citrate
Apart from being a go-to drink ( not regular though) in summer to prevent dehydration, ORS is also medically proven to cure diarrheal episodes, especially in children.
In this article, we have covered:
For adults, it is important to drink at least 3 liters of ORS every day if they are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea.
With children, oral rehydration therapy is a very crucial process and the amount of ORS given and the time should be carefully examined and analyzed.
If a child has 2 or more dehydration signs (4-10 loose stools/day, more than a little vomiting, thirstiness, and less urine than usual), he should be rehydrated with an oral rehydration solution (ORS).
The standard dose is giving 10-20 ml/kg of ORS each hour for 4 hours. After that, a reassessment of hydration is done.
If the child has 2 or more of the signs of severe dehydration (more than 10 loose stools/day, much vomiting, inability to drink fluids, and no urine for 6 hours), intravenous rehydration is necessary.
There is no harm in consuming ORS in empty stomach once or twice but it’s always preferable if you eat some food before drinking it. If you constantly drink ORS on an empty stomach for a long time, it may lead to acidity. It is always advised that ORS should not be taken with empty stomach for a long time. Also, the habit of consuming ORS every day is not good for health.
ORS drinks are associated with many benefits that can work wonders for every age group. These include-
1) Overcoming dehydration
Those who are suffering from dehydration can cope much faster with ORS due to the presence of electrolytes and sugar in it.
When the body loses excess glucose or when dehydration leads to loss of salts from the body, consuming ORS drinks can help restore the lost salts and glucose. This helps to replenish the body with the required minerals and fluids which maintains the hydration of the body.
2) Treating diarrhea
As discussed above, diarrheal episodes are quite common in children and adults leading to extreme dehydration and loss of important minerals from the body. The ORS drink contains sugar as well which helps the intestine to absorb these salts and electrolytes quickly and efficiently.
3) Enhance the performance of athletes
Rehydration is an important aspect of every athlete’s life due to the fluids and electrolytes they lose through excessive sweating. Consuming rehydration supplements like ORS can pump up the energy in athletes by boosting their hydration levels. It also keeps an athlete safe from injury.
4) Prevent fatigue
The body feels weak and fatigued when it is not hydrated enough. It is also associated with the lack of important minerals in the body. By drinking ORS you can reduce fatigue and weakness easily due to its primary role of replenishing fluids into the body to make you feel active and energetic.
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You can make your own ORS solution easily at home following these simple steps-
- Clean Water – 1 liter – 5 cups (each cup is about 200 ml.)
- Sugar – Six level teaspoons (1 teaspoon = 5grams)
- Salt – Half level teaspoon
- Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves
In case you are unable to prepare an ORS solution home, store-bought hydration powders are always a fall-back option for you. Choose a product that will replenish electrolytes and also provide additional nutritional support. For example, Healthystripe hydration electrolyte powder helps replenish lost electrolytes during dehydration. It also has added minerals and vitamins that may gave you an extra boost during your recovery phase. Always remember, in severe cases of dehydration, you may need to consult a registered medical practitioner and follow their treatment protocol.
As effective as ORS is in preventing diarrhea and dehydration, wrong or excessive use of it can also cause some side effects. Most of the time, these side effects are mild.
The possible side effects of ORS are-
- Unusual weakness
- Swelling of ankles
- Itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- Breathing problems
If any of these side effects persist for a longer time and make the condition worse, promptly contact your doctor or pharmacist to avoid severe health complications.
This is also to keep in mind that consuming ORS daily is not healthy. It is like a supplement and thus overconsumption can cause deposition of extra salts and minerals in the body leading to problems like diabetes, arthritis, etc.
Yes, ORS electrolyte drinks are safe to drink daily. However, you don’t need to consume them when you are not losing a big chunk of fluids from your body.
When you are healthy, drinking ORS juice every day might lead to overhydration, which can bring its own set of illnesses just like dehydration does.
But when you do have an illness like diarrhea or vomiting to treat, you can drink about 3 liters of ORS drinks daily till you find relief if you are an adult or teenage child. These 3 liters can have two or three ORS packs.
Small children should be given regular ORS drinks only after consulting a doctor.
You can drink ORS drinks (or give them to your child) in the following scenarios:
- As soon as diarrhea/ vomiting starts.
- Every time the child passes a watery stool.
- Sip it every 5 minutes until you find urination levels are back to normal.
- Whenever you feel dehydrated, even if you are healthy otherwise.
- Drinking ORS on empty stomach early in the morning is also okay.
- You can sip it before sleep as well, but make sure it’s only a few sips.
ORS drinks are one of the best choices for treating dehydration and diarrheal episodes for children and adults. The correct amount and usage should however be kept in mind for positive results.
Other than ORS, natural electrolyte drinks and sports drinks can also work wonders in restoring hydration. However, with medical conditions involved, they need to be consumed cautiously.