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Electrolyte replacement products

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Oral rehydration salts are a balanced formulation of electrolytes and minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium phosphorus, chloride, and a small proportion of glucose. They can be added to water to make a solution that’s readily absorbed by the body.

This scientifically balanced mix is absorbed through the small intestine by a process called osmosis, and get fluid back into the bloodstream up to three times faster than drinking water alone. This fast-tracks fluids to the tissues that need it, allowing you to carry on or recover from a workout. They are also the right choice for hot climates or a bout of gastroenteritis, where diarrhoea or vomiting causes water loss.

Doctor’s advice

Common brands of electrolyte products

O.R.S Hydration Tablets are available in a convenient easy-to-carry tube and come in three flavours (strawberry, blackcurrant and lemon). A 200ml hydration solution drink can be made up by dissolving 2 tablets and mixing. The solution can be stored after mixing and used for up to 8 hours outside the fridge. They are suitable for adults and children, vegan friendly and free from gluten, lactose and artificial preservatives.

Dioralyte Relief Sachets. These are available in blackcurrant or strawberry flavours and contain active ingredients to reduce diarrhoea and dehydration. These sachets contain essential electrolytes to help maintain your body wellness and rich starch to add bulk to your stools for treating diarrhoea.

Dioralyte Sachets come in plain, citrus or blackcurrant flavours and replace essential body water and salts in acute diarrhoea. The dosage for adults is one or two sachets after every loose motion (each sachet dissolved in 200mls of water). The solution can be taken up to an hour after reconstitution if left outside the fridge, or 24 hours if kept in the fridge.

Are electrolyte replacement products safe?

Oral rehydration salts are generally considered safe to use for all ages and many ongoing medical conditions, such as diabetes and mild kidney disease. If used correctly, they are only replenishing what is already being lost by the body.

When should I avoid them?

For more serious or severe medical conditions, you should consult with your doctor or hospital specialist before starting, as care is needed not to upset the fragile balance of salts. Conditions requiring caution include moderate to severe kidney disease, heart failure, being put on a restricted daily fluid intake, or those taking certain diuretic medication, such as furosemide or spironolactone.

Oral rehydration salts should not be used to treat severe dehydration. Signs that point to this include feeling lethargic or confused, having a weak or rapid heart rate and breathing fast. This is a medical emergency that carries a risk of coma and death and requires immediate emergency treatment – usually with fluids by the vein and a careful correction of electrolyte imbalances. The emergency team will investigate and treat any underlying reason for the dehydration, such as an overwhelming infection.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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