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Oral rehydration solution

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Oral rehydration solutions 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.

Who is it for?

Anyone who requires hydration. Oral rehydration solution can be used for dehydration that may be caused by illness, exercise, some people even use it for a hangover. It can be used in children and adults.

Always reconstitute oral rehydration tablets or sachets according to the manufacturer’s instructions, do not add more or less water than stated because the solution has been scientifically formulated to contain the right number of electrolytes and glucose to aid hydration. The amount to take will depend on your age. You should make up the solution when you intend to take it. If you are experiencing vomiting or having trouble keeping down fluids, reconstitute your rehydration solution, and take frequent but small sips. It is important to finish the entire amount of the solution to see the benefit.

How does it work?

Oral rehydration solutions contain a scientifically balanced mix that is absorbed through the small intestine by a process called osmosis, and get fluid back into the bloodstream up to 3 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 losses.

Are they 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.

Should anybody avoid taking it?

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.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023