Made at Home
Solutions: The most effective, least expensive
way to manage diarrhoeal dehydration
A very suitable and effective
simple solution for rehydrating a child can be
made by using salt, sugar and water.
Molasses and other forms of raw sugar can
be used instead of white sugar, and these contain more potassium than white
sugar. Other solutions: Breastmilk, gruels (diluted mixtures of cooked cereals
and water), carrot soup, rice water - congee, fresh fruit juice, weak tea, green
coconut water or water from the cleanest possible source brought to the boil and
Most often, diarrhoea kills a child by dehydration, which
means that too much liquid has been drained out of the child's body. So as soon as
diarrhoea starts, it is essential to give the child extra drinks to replace the
liquid being lost.
Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) is the cheap, simple and effective way to treat dehydration
caused by diarrhoea. When diarrhoea occurs, essential fluids and salts are lost from the
body and must be quickly replaced. Many of the millions of children who die every year in
developing countries from diarrhoea could be saved if they were given ORT promptly.
ORT is the giving of fluid by mouth to prevent and/or correct the dehydration that is a
result of diarrhoea. As soon as diarrhoea begins, treatment using home remedies to prevent
dehydration must be started.
An effective solution can be made using ingredients found in almost every household.
This includes fluids at home such as tea, soups, rice water and fruit juices to
prevent dehydration, and the use of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution to treat
Made up with clean water the ORS drink contains the main elements that are lost from the
body during diarrhoea. It is effective in treating dehydration resulting from all types of
acute diarrhoeal diseases.
One of these drinks should be given to the child every time a watery stool is passed.
If you have diarrhoea, continue to drink the solution. The fluids will not increase the
During or after treatment of dehydration, whatever is causing the diarrhoea, vomiting, or
other symptoms should also be treated.
Many countries now have diarrhoeal disease control programmes, but ORT is still not nearly
as widely used as it should be and more effective information dissemination and promotion
of ORT is necessary.
The prevention of diarrhoea depends upon improvements in water supply, sanitation, and
hygiene. But in the meantime, the majority of deaths from diarrhoeal dehydration can be
cheaply prevented by oral rehydration therapy (ORT).
How does ORT work?
Acute diarrhea normally only lasts a few days. ORT does not stop the
diarrhoea, but it replaces the lost fluids and essential salts thus preventing or treating
dehydration and reducing the danger.
The glucose contained in ORS solution enables the intestine to absorb the fluid and the
salts more efficiently.
ORT alone is an effective treatment for 90-95% of patients suffering from acute watery
diarrhoea, regardless of cause, This makes intravenous drip therapy unnecessary in all but
the most severe cases.
10 Things you should know about Rehydrating a child.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing solution.
- Prepare a solution, in a clean pot, by mixing
- Half (1/2) teaspoon Salt and Six (6) teaspoons sugar
- 1 packet of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)
- with one litre of clean drinking or boiled water (after cooled)
Stir the mixture till all the contents dissolve.
- Wash your hands and the baby's hands with soap and water before feeding
- Give the sick child as much of the solution as it needs, in small amounts
- Give child alternately other fluids - such as breast milk and juices.
- Continue to give solids if child is four months or older.
- If the child still needs ORS after 24 hours, make a fresh solution.
- ORS does not stop diarrhoea. It prevents the body from
drying up. The diarrhoea will stop by itself.
- If child vomits, wait ten minutes and give it ORS again. Usually vomiting
- If diarrhoea increases and /or vomiting persists, take child over to a
Someone with symptoms of severe dehydration needs to go to an
Emergency Room or other health care facility to get intravenous fluids (fluids given
directly into the veins through a needle) if possible.
updated: 10 November, 2012