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Oral rehydration therapy
Dehydration caused by diarrhoea is one of the biggest single killers of children in the modern world and diarrhoea itself is one of the major causes of nutritional loss and poor growth. 
To prevent too much liquid being lost from the child's body, an effective oral rehydration solution can be made using ingredients found in almost every household.
Oral rehydration therapy is used to treat dehydration caused by diarrhoea. This is important as it is the most dangerous aspect of the illness. Oral rehydration therapy keeps people alive through serious diarrhea, until the infection passes.
However standard ORT does not reduce stool output or length of illness. Research has been carried out on methods to reduce stool formation. This would be valuable as it means less fluids are lost in the first place and the exhausting effects of the illnesses may decrease,[verification needed] and it could reduce the tendency for parents to withhold ORT from a child to stop them defecating as much:
- Reduced osmolarity oral rehydration solution - note that concerns have been raised about its use, especially in cholera cases.
- Starch-based oral rehydration solutions. - some research suggests that this reduces stool formation (i.e. reduces the amount of liquid expelled from the body) in cholera cases.
- The Rehydration Project
- M. Kassaye, C. Larson and D. Carlson Department of Community Health, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
- It is better to drink ORS and expel most of it again, rather than not to drink it. However the carer may not be aware of this, or they may want to avoid the trouble and expense of changing nappies or clothing - especially an issue if exhausted from caring for the child and/or unable to afford disposable nappies.
The simplest version is 8 level teaspoons sugar and 1 level teaspoon salt in a liter of clean drinking water.
References and more information
- M. Kassaye, C. Larson and D. Carlson, A randomized community trial of prepackaged and homemade oral rehydration therapies Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 148 No. 12, December 1994
- Diarrhea: why is a simple and inexpensive treatment not more widely used? IRC, Updated: Monday 6 November 2006. Accessed 21 November 2006.