Diarrhoea is common condition that occurs in both children and adults. However, it should be taken more seriously when it affects children because of their weak immune system, which is compromised when they suffer from the condition.
When a child gets diarrhoea, the recommended treatment is a combination of Oral Rehydration Salts (therapy) and zinc. This helps to replace fluids and minerals (electrolytes), such as sodium, which are usually lost as a result of the repeated passing of watery stool.
ORS helps to enhance absorption of water and electrolytes, replace the electrolyte deficit and neutralise the acidity in the stomach that results from diarrhoea
Glucose, on the other hand, is said to enhance the absorption of both sodium and water, which is why the ideal treatment for diarrhoea should always contain sodium, potassium and glucose. However, a person can replace glucose with foods such as rice that are rich in carbohydrates.
After a person who suffers from diarrhoea gets rehydrated, the focus should shift to ensuring that they do not become dehydrated again. That is why patients are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids when they have diarrhoea.
For babies, mothers should breastfeed between servings of the ORS therapy. On the other hand, formula feeds can be given to children who are above the breastfeeding age.
Adults who have diarrhoea should take ORS therapy after passing stool, in amounts ranging from 200 to 400 millilitres. Among children, 200 millilitres of the therapy is ideal. Every table spoon of ORS is measured at 10 millimetres, which means a child needs about 20 tablespoons for every solution made.
However, the dose can be adjusted depending on the need or doctor’s assessment.
A sachet of ORS costs Shs500, with the common brands being oralyte orange, oralyte plain, peditral powder and restors. Some, however, come readily packaged with zinc.
ORS can be made at home. All a person needs is clean boiled water. ORS should be taken until the diarrhoea or vomiting stops, or as recommended by a health practitioner.
The writer is a pharmacist
SOURCE: Daily Monitor