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Electrolyte replacement products

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 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 it gets fluid back into the bloodstream up to three times faster than drinking water alone. This fast-tracks fluids to the needed tissues, 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 diarrhea 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 flavors (strawberry, blackcurrant, and lemon). It is suitable for adults and children, vegan friendly, and free from gluten, lactose, and artificial preservatives. An 8-ounce 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.

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

Dioralyte Sachets replace essential body water and salts in acute diarrhea. The dosage for adults is one or two sachets after every loose movement (each sachet dissolved in 8 ounces 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 refrigerator.

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 taking certain diuretic medications, 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 medical emergency 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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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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