What Is Oral Rehydration Therapy? Does It Work?

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Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a common solution to dehydration caused by diarrhea. It’s often used to correct the condition and help normalize your body’s fluid content. Although ORT is a common solution, the therapy process remains a mystery to some people. 

For educational purposes, this post takes a look at what oral rehydration therapy is, how it’s administered, and how it works?

What Is Oral Rehydration Therapy?

Oral Rehydration therapy involves providing the body with fluids orally to prevent or treat dehydration. It’s usually used to treat dehydration that occurs as a result of diarrhea, although it can also be used to treat other forms of dehydration.

ORT involves mixing salt, sugar, and water to form a solution that treats dehydration in both children and adults. The therapy increases the fluid content of the body and helps keep the body hydrated.

Dehydration mostly occurs because of the low level of water in the body’s system. Some of the causes include extreme seasonal heat, such as the summer season, and stomach infections, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, leading to dehydration. 

Furthermore, dehydration can increase allergy symptoms, making it more difficult for the body to fight against allergic reactions, especially during the high temperature of summer. To keep your body properly hydrated, you may need to constantly engage in oral rehydration therapy. 

Since dehydration can occur in both infants and adults, you must put into consideration the quantity ratio of glucose and salts used in this liquid oral dehydration therapy. The right glucose-salt quantity ratio should be 1:1 or six teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed to dissolve in a 1 liter of clean water.

How To Prepare Oral Rehydration Solution?

What Is Oral Rehydration Therapy? Does It Work?

When preparing ORT, carefully observe this preparation process. Also, a proper hygienic attitude is necessary to avoid any further health complications. 

  • Get clean water–1liter is best for a child and 2 liters for an adult. 
  • Make your glucose and salt available in the proper quantity as prescribed above.
  • Carefully add your glucose and salt into the water, then stir until the soluble dissolves.
  • Drink it at set time intervals to achieve an effective intravenous result. 

Causes of Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis 

Stomach flu is commonly caused by a bacterium ingested through food or water. It’s also called viral gastroenteritis because it can be contacted through someone you have or had contact with. Some of the symptoms of stomach flu include constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, among others.

Stomach flu becomes viral when groups of people in the same area are affected at the same time. Since it’s an immune virus infection, it easily spreads among people with a low immune system, especially children.

Also Read: Understanding Mood Swings while on Birth Control Pills

Stomach Flu In Children

The version of viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu that occurs in kids and infants is known as rotavirus. Rotavirus occurs in infants because they have a weaker immune system, making them easy victims of the virus. 

Take note that the virus can survive between two to four on their toys and in playgrounds where other kids play. 

Symptoms Of Stomach Flu In Children

It’s important to watch for these symptoms in children so you can commence oral rehydration therapy immediately:

  • Dehydration–dry mouth, throat, and tongue
  • Fever
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

Stomach Flu in Adults 

Stomach flu can also occur in adults, especially seniors and those with a compromised immune system. These people are also at the highest risk of dehydration from stomach flu (diarrhea). Infection can occur by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, and touching contaminated surfaces/persons.

The symptoms of stomach flu in adults include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache, abdominal pains. Since stomach flu has no immediate cure/treatment, you need oral rehydration therapy to correct and treat the dehydration while waiting for the virus to run its course.  

Does Oral Rehydration Therapy Work? 

Loss of fluid through diarrhea, vomiting, or fever can be treated by administering oral rehydration therapy. This is because the intestine responds faster by ingesting liquid. And, since the effects of stomach flu primarily affect the intestine and the stomach, intravenous methods of prevention and care may not be the ideal way to address the situation. 

ORT works simply because it comes from three important ingredients, salt, sugar, and water. These ingredients rehydrate the body and prevent a sudden and large loss of body fluids. The water, salt, and sugar solution is an excellent way of adding water into the bloodstreams through osmosis. The mixture is also more effective compared to ordinary water solution because it contains sugar and salt, which replenishes the essential minerals (electrolytes) that were lost during dehydration. 

WHO (World Health Organization) has also recommended that oral rehydration therapy can be used to treat dehydration and diarrhea in children and adults as long as the glucose and salt are in the right quantity.

Other than using salt and sugar solution to replace lost fluids, you can also combine ORT with fresh fruit juice that’s diluted with water or smoothies to be taken orally

How Does Oral Rehydration Therapy Work?

ORT works through a process called osmotic movements. It’s the process by which an ingested liquid moves from a higher concentration area in the intestine to the blood vessels so that the right amount of salt-glucose solution is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping balance fluids in the body. 

WHO and UNICEF have approved the replacement of fluids into the body through oral rehydration therapy. ORT has also been proven to be the best way to replace the loss of water in the body when you’ve subjected yourself to harsh weather, after a work-out session, or as a result of stomach flu. 

Though water could serve as a substitute for the sugar-sodium solution, it would be better to include the oral rehydration solution in your therapy. This is because the salt, sugar, and water solution contain the electrolytes needed for the body to gain its fluid balance.


The larger percentage of the body’s system is made up of water. Thus, the body needs a constant supply of water to stay healthy, fresh, and energized. This means that when the fluid content of the body becomes low, it’ll cause the body to become weak. 

Dehydration, when left untreated, can lead to further health complications, such as seizures, heat injury, urinary/kidney problems, and low blood volume shock. This is why ORT treatment should commence as soon as dehydration occurs. So far, ORT remains the simplest and fastest way to treat dehydration in both children and adults.

So this was it for today. I hope you have found reading about Oral Rehydration Therapy helpful.

Have a Good Day! 

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Niharika Verma

Beauty Blogger. I Love exploring Skincare and Makeup as much as I love Food and Humor. I Love Reading about Mental Health and I believe in Good Vibes. Find me on Instagram @niharikaverma95 :) My Email- vermaniharika101@gmail.com

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