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How do oral rehydration salts work?

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 1 minute read

Oral rehydration therapy (also known as oral rehydration salts or solution) is used to prevent and treat dehydration. Around the world, it is used to prevent serious illness and death from diarrhea. It has been reported to reduce the risk of death by more than 90%. It is considered so important that it is a part of the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines.

Doctor’s advice

How does it work?

When you lose fluid through sweat or diarrhea, you lose more than just water. You are losing important salts such as sodium. If you were to drink simple water, your body would lose most of it and continue to lose the important salts simultaneously.

When taking O.R.S Hydration Tablets, the glucose helps get the sodium, which is also in the product, back into the body. This creates a path for water molecules to follow the sodium. It is a game of "follow the leader" back into the body’s cells; glucose first, sodium, and water.

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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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