Answers to questions in relation to oral rehydration therapy

Indian J Public Health. Apr-Jun 1994;38(2):87-8.


PIP: Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) has simplified treatment of diarrheal dehydration. Hospitals in India have diarrheal treatment and training units (DTUs) to help manage the many diarrheal cases. DTU staff keep children for 4-6 hours to correct the dehydration with ORT and feeding. Health personnel undergo training in diarrhea management at DTUs. ORT is the preferred treatment in almost all cases of acute diarrhea. It is not best for diarrheal cases which exhibit shock, profuse vomiting (3 times/hour), glucose malabsorption, abdominal distension or paralytic ileus, and high rate of purging (15 ml/kg body weight/hour). ORT successfully treats 95% cases of infantile diarrhea, even Rotavirus-caused diarrhea. Health workers should begin treating cases of severe dehydration with intravenous (IV) therapy and then administer ORT 3-4 hours later for infants and 1-2 hours later for adults. If IV therapy is not possible, the patient should receive oral rehydration solution (ORS) nasogastrically and then referred to a facility with IV therapy. WHO's ORS formula is safe for newborns and young infants. ORT is appropriate even when diarrheal cases are vomiting. ORT tends to stop vomiting 1-2 hours after initial ORS administration because it corrects acidosis. The glucose in WHO's ORS facilitates absorption of adequate sodium across the intestinal mucous membrane. ORS also restores the loss potassium ions and HCO3/citrate. If ORS is not available, sugar salt solution can be used. To achieve the optimum concentration, the amount of sucrose has to be twice that of glucose. ORS should be stored in a cool place, be covered, and used for no more than 24 hours. Antiemetics should not be given during ORT. Most diarrheas do not require any antibiotic. Sterile water is not necessary to prepare ORS. Rice gruel, coconut water, and pulse water are home available fluids which can treat dehydration. Breast feeding and regular feeding should continue during diarrheal episodes.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / therapy*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / therapy
  • Fluid Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Rehydration Solutions / therapeutic use*


  • Rehydration Solutions