An ORS drink is an easy and safe solution that helps to rehydrate when your body has lost its fluids due to illnesses like diarrhea or vomiting. It is a mixture of salts and sugar in the correct ratio mixed with clean drinking water.
ORS drinks made with the right dry salts can help you prevent dehydration. You can even use it during travel if you have a small pack of ORS mix and safe drinking water with you. Just make sure to take slow, small sips of ORS juice whenever you drink it.
What is an ORS drink?
Oral Rehydration Solution or ORS is a mixture of electrolytes with sugar and water. This solution aids in bringing back the electrolyte balance lost mainly due to vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating.
The major ORS contents include-
- Sodium chloride
- Potassium Chloride
- Sodium Citrate
The electrolytes that are significantly increased on consuming ORS are sodium and potassium. The supplement is majorly available in the market as ORS powder form.
Apart from being a go-to drink ( not regular though) in summers to prevent dehydration, ORS is also medically proven to cure diarrheal episodes, especially in children.
Uses and benefits of an ORS drink
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.
Benefits of an ORS drink
ORS drinks are associated with many uses and benefits that can work wonders for every age group. These include-
- Overcoming dehydration
Those who are suffering from dehydration can cope up 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.
- Treating diarrhea
As discussed above, diarrheal episodes are quite common in children and in 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How to prepare an Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution at home?
ORS powder packets are available almost at every pharmacy, healthcare center, and shop these days.
With the sachets available, all you need to do is to put the contents of the ORS packet in a clean container and add the correct amount of clean water. These days, you can find many flavors of the ORS solutions to bring more variety and taste to the solution.
Make sure you add the optimum quantity of water and not too much. Do not add ORS to milk, soup, fruit juice, or soft drinks, and keep it sugar-free.
If ORS sachets are not available, then 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
ORS side effects
As much 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 on a daily basis 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.
Can you drink ORS on an empty stomach?
There is no harm in consuming ORS on an empty stomach but make sure you don’t make a habit of having it every day.
If you constantly drink ORS on an empty stomach for a long time, it may lead to acidity. Also, the habit of consuming ORS every day is not good for health.
Is ORS Safe To Drink Daily?
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.
When Should You Take ORS Drinks?
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.