Consume WHO-recommended ORS for dehydration, say experts

Emphasis on the role of ORS amidst summer surge

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dehydration
WHO-approved ORS over sugary drinks for effective dehydration treatment.

India, with its scorching summers, faces a critical challenge of combating dehydration, particularly among children, where diarrhea ranks as the third leading cause of mortality. Despite Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) being an essential medicine, recent NFHS-5 data shows that only 60.6% of children with diarrhea receive ORS, highlighting the need for increased awareness and proper utilization.

Dr. Vibhor Borkar, director of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and liver transplant, Nanavati Max Superspecialty Hosptial, Mumbai, emphasizes the critical role of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in treating children with diarrhea and dehydration, he says, Diarrhoea can cause rapid fluid loss, electrolyte imbalances, and dehydration. ORS is a simple yet powerful solution that replenishes fluids and electrolytes, preventing complications and promoting faster recovery, especially in children under five. 

“It’s important to note that ORS is not only effective but also safe. Using incorrect salt or sugar formulations can have detrimental consequences. Proper dehydration management requires the intake of a precise balance of water and electrolytes. Using improper homemade solutions or other high-sugar-containing drinks can disrupt this balance, leading to serious health risks such as worsening dehydration and, in extreme cases, even death,” he said.

To ensure proper hydration during the summer season, a public awareness campaign highlights the importance of WHO-approved ORS solutions. Recognizable brands like Prolyte ORS, Dr Morepen ORS, or ORS Walyte ORS adhere to these standards, offering a safe and effective way to combat dehydration. 

Dr. Lalit Verma, lead and senior consultant, Gleneagles Hospital, Mumbai,  stresses the importance of making informed choices when selecting ORS, especially with the rising temperatures increasing the demand for it, explaining, “It is crucial to choose the right kind of ORS to combat diarrhea followed by dehydration. Understanding the difference between ORS and commercially available sugar-laden drinks is key. While these drinks may replenish electrolytes and water to a limited extent, they lack the essential glucose-sodium and potassium ratio necessary for rapid absorption of water and electrolytes, thus proving indispensable for treating dehydration. Therefore, opting for WHO-approved formulations over sugary drinks not intended for dehydration treatment is vital for maintaining overall health, especially children’s health, during the summer heat.”

It is critical to make informed choices. When faced with dehydration, prioritize WHO-approved ORS solutions over other sugar-laden drinks unsuitable for treating dehydration. By understanding the benefits of ORS and its appropriate use, we can empower individuals and families to become heroes of their health, particularly during the hot summer months. This knowledge can help save the lives of thousands of children every year. 

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