Oral Rehydration Solutions
As the temperatures continue to rise and the days get longer the medical staff at Mountain Medics have been seeing more and more cases of dehydration which has prompted us to explore the differences in various methods used for rehydration; and the differences between them.
Dehydration can present itself in several different ways; knowing the signs and symptoms and having a plan to prevent and treat them are essential. Restlessness and irritability, sunken eyes, dry mouth and tongue, increased thirst, decreased urine, lethargy or unconsciousness, very dry mouth and tongue, skin goes back very slowly when pinched (“tenting”), weak or absent pulse, low blood pressure, minimal or no urine can all be signs of dehydration.
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) is the non-proprietary name for a balanced glucose-electrolyte mixture, first used in 1969 and approved, recommended, and distributed by The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The World Health Organization (WHO) as a drug for the treatment of clinical dehydration throughout the world. In 1984, another mixture containing trisodium citrate instead of sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate) was developed with the aim of improving the stability of ORS in hot and humid climates. For more than 20 years, WHO and UNICEF have recommended this single formulation of ORS to prevent or treat dehydration. (World Health Organization, 1998)
An ORS must have sufficient sodium to replace losses on a volume to volume basis, a glucose concentration that matches that of sodium to ensure its delivery to the ileum, sufficient amounts of potassium and base (e.g., sodium bicarbonate or trisodium citrate dihydrate) to correct acidosis and to enhance sodium absorption, and sufficient amounts of liquid (Sachdev, 1996).
DripDrop is an example of such; Drip Drop Hydration is an oral rehydration solution (ORS) rather than a sports drink. Each stick contains a precise and meticulously formulated ratio of electrolytes, glucose, and other important ingredients. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes ORS as essential for dehydration treatment and prevention and has been using the solution in the developing world for over 50 years. Studies have shown ORS to rehydrate as effectively as an IV.
One 21 gram stick of DripDrop mixed with 16 ounces of water delivers three times the electrolytes of sports drinks, with half the sugar. This optimal ratio of sodium to glucose allows for maximum absorption of electrolytes and fluid into the bloodstream. It is important to note that all packets used must conform to a national standard dose. This will avoid confusion in the field and reduce the risk of over- or under-concentration resulting from varying packet and container sizes. (Oral Rehydration Solution, 2018)
IV rehydration therapy is also often used during extreme dehydration situations. It had been long been thought that the immediate entry of fluids into the bloodstream would offer a multitude of benefits for an otherwise healthy, dehydrated athlete looking to replace fluids rapidly. However recent evidence indicates that when equal volumes of the same concentration of fluid are used for rehydration intravenously or orally, no performance or physiological advantage exists to justify the use of IV rehydration. IV treatment is invasive, requires trained medical staff, must be given off the field, and increases the risk of infection and bruising. Thus, an oral rehydration protocol is usually a more efficacious and safe hydration approach. Nevertheless, the fact remains that greater volumes can be tolerated from a gastrointestinal perspective than when the fluid is administered intravenously. (Van Rosendal, 2010)
Other oral rehydration products can be beneficial when it comes to fighting dehydration in the field; sports drinks provide needed calories and replenish lost electrolytes that are essential for proper body functions, fruit drinks and powdered electrolyte additives or tablets such as the NUUN tablets, can also provide one with the essential electrolytes needed to replenish what has been lost during the day.
It is important to remember that as much as treating dehydration is important to remain healthy and perform at one’s optimal capacity; the key is prophylactically staying hydrated, ensuring that you are continually drinking fluids and replenishing the minerals and electrolytes that are lost will prevent severe dehydration and possible further injury.
In conclusion; after comparing the various research done on the pros and cons of countless types of rehydration methods it is noted that each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Whichever method you decide to use will be beneficial. The additives that are found in these supplements are essential to adequately hydrate the body during strenuous activities and far exceed the benefits of water alone. It is important to keep in mind though as with anything, consumption of these products in excess is not suggested and it is important to read the packages and take them as recommended.
Oral Rehydration Solution. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2018, from
Sachdev, H. P. (1996, August). Oral Rehydration Therapy. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from
Van Rosendal, Simon & Andrew Osborne, Mark & Fassett, Robert & Lancashire, Bill &
Scott Coombes, Jeff. (2010). Intravenous versus Oral Rehydration in Athletes. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.). 40. 327-46.
W. (1985). Oral Rehydration Salts. Production of the ORS, 1-123. Retrieved July 13,
2018, from http:// apps.who.int/iris/ bitstream/handle/10665/69227/WHO_FCH_CAH_06.1.pdf?sequence=1