What is ORS?

ORS(Oral Rehydration Salt) is a special combination of dry salts. It comes in a packet and when the content is properly mixed with safe water, it can help rehydrate the body when a lot of fluid has been lost due to diarrhoea.

Where can ORS be obtained?

In Nigeria, ORS packets are available in health centres, pharmacies, markets and shops.

How to make the ORS drink

1. Put the contents of the ORS packet in a clean container. Check the packet for expiry date. Carefully read the instructions/directions and add the correct quantity of clean water. Too little water could make the diarrhoea worse.

2. Add water only. Do not add milk, soup, fruit juice or soft drinks to ORS. DO NOT ADD SUGAR.

3. Stir well,and feed the mixture to the child from a clean cup. Do not use a bottle.

How much ORS drink should be given to a child?

Encourage the child to drink as much as possible. In addition, give the child ORS after each watery stool. Diarrhoea usually stops in three or four days. If it does not stop after one week, see a trained health worker or take the child to the health centre.

Parents should immediately seek help from a trained health worker if the child:
* passes many watery stool in one or two hours.
* passes blood in stool.
* vomits all the time.
* has a fever
* is very thirsty
* is not able to feed.
* does not want to drink.
* refuses to eat.
* has sunken eyes.
* looks weak.
* has had diarrhoea for more than two weeks.

While preparing to take the child to see the health worker, the child should first be given ORS solution or other fluids.

Other homemade fluids for diarrhoea

* rice water
* fresh fruit juices
* weak tea with a little sugar
* coconut water
* garri water
* clean water from a clean safe source
* breastmilk (mothers should breastfeed more than often than usual)
* salt sugar solution (SSS)

To make SSS, mix together ten level teaspoons of sugar, one level teaspoon of salt and two 35cl coke bottle filled with clean water in a clean container with cover.
Give the child as much as s/he can take. If the fluid is not finished by the following day, throw it away and make a fresh one.

Be very careful to mix the correct quantity, as too much sugar can make the diarrhoea worse and too much salt can be dangerous also. But if the SSS is over diluted, no harm can be done and it is still useful.

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Culled from Basic Health Information on MATERNAL, NEWBORN AND CHILD HEALTH (MNCH)-UNICEF


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