Rapid evacuation of fluids from the body, which can be caused by cholera or other diarrheal diseases, may lead to chronic dehydration and eventually death. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS - also known as Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT)) are a solution of sugars and salts which helps to slow the evacuation of fluids, allowing for the absorption of electrolytes in the intestines. Though approximately 80 percent of individuals affected by cholera could be treated successfully using ORS, only about 35 percent of families in diarrhea-stricken countries utilize the treatment because improvement is not seen immediately.

In countries affected by outbreaks of diarrheal illness, pre-mixed ORS sachets are frequently distributed to help halt the spread of the bacteria which can spread quickly in areas with poor sanitation or a lack of potable water (clean drinking water). ORS can also be useful for backpackers or climbers who may be affected by diarrheal illness or dehydration due to contaminated water, and pre-mixed sachets are frequently available at outdoor supply stores. When pre-mixed sachets are not available, an ORS solution can be made easily using common household ingredients.

Please Note: Information and recipes provided here are from The Rehydration Project and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Oral Rehydration Salts should be administered under supervision of an individual with appropriate training whenever possible and clean water MUST ALWAYS be used for all preparations. If you are unsure about the quality of the water you are using, PLEASE BE SURE TO BOIL it before using to help kill off any bacteria that may be present.

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

  • A large container to mix the solution (ensure that it has been cleaned well using uncontaminated water)
  • Measuring spoons

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation suggests:
  • 1 liter of purified water (Please Note: if you are unsure about the quality of the water you are using, please be sure to boil it before making the solution to kill off any bacteria that may be present)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt substitute (optional but recommended - I didn't have any so it isn't pictured here) (note: provides potassium which is important for water balance in the body)

The Rehydration Project suggests:
  • 1 liter of water (boiled and cooled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 teaspoons white sugar
I would like to suggest using sea salt or some other natural (less processed) salt and raw sugar. <br>Table salt and white sugar are the unhealthier versions of their less refined counterparts and less gentle on the intestines.
If someone does use these ingredients they need to remember that a cup of the sea salt or raw sugar is not the same as the more processed version. Cooks that are using sea salt typically use more of it than they would use if used table salt.
I wonder if I put the ingredients in a coffee grinder (the cheap grinder with the blades .... it just cuts the ingredients up) and blend it till it is very fine. I figure since the ingredients are finer it would be more likely to be absorbed by the body quicker. This would be helpful with people that are vomiting. <br> <br>Just a thought
Awesome you posted this- such important first aid. A classic Instructable.
The list(s) of ingredients show TEASPOONS as the unit of measure for WHITE SUGAR, but the photo shows this ingredient measured in TABLESPOONS. Please clarify which unit of measure to use. Thanks.
It should be teaspoons - sorry about that and thank you for catching it!
Wouldn't it be easier (and tastier!) to buy some powdered Gatorade mix?
While Gatorade or similar products may be helpful for individuals with mild dehydration, Oral Rehydration Salts are intended for individuals with severe dehydration resulting from diarrheal illnesses like cholera, etc.
Ah that makes sense. So since we're on the subject, I have a question: Is it a good idea to give Imodium to someone with cholera or food poisoning?
I'm afraid that's a question that would be best answered by a physician.
umm, what exactly does the baking soda do?
As far as I know it's contains different types of salts that aid in rehydration. The &quot;recipes&quot; included above are from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Rehydration Project.
Very handy info! THX!<br><br>I am still missing for how long should this product be consumed so as to be considered rehydrated... 6 hours is ok?<br><br>I read that 5 minutes of water or milk under a fire should be enough to have it pasteurized (free of any bacteria). That is at least having water heated at 65 c degrees during a minute, should do... You don't need to boil it, really...<br><br>Good article! Thank you.<br><br>alberto
Thanks so much for the question. That would depend on how dehydrated an individual was, but in most cases for an adult 6 hours would usually be alright.
Damn...too bad I didn't have this recipe handy when I got food poisoning! It's much cheaper to make than buying bottles of Pedialyte!
At least you can have some on hand and hopefully it'll help next time!
Hah! God forbid! Last time I ever buy slimy-looking cheese on sale at the grocery store!<br>But thank you, haha.
My brain just got a little bigger after reading all this, some good info here!<br> Good call on boiling dubious water when making your ORS, a sure-fire way to continue being sick if you don't.<br> <br> Nice writeup!<br> <br>
Thanks so much - so glad you found it helpful!

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