Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS)

  • It is a solution of electrolytes recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) for treatment of dehydration.
  • It contains a sugar (glucose) and salts (sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate) in a powder form. Glucose not only provides energy¬† but it also helps in absorption of the salts.
  • Composition of ORS.
Ingredients Quantity
Sodium chloride 3.5 g
Trisodium citrate 2.9 g
Potassium chloride 1.5 g
Glucose 20.0 g
Water 1 L.
  • The basic idea behind ORS is replacement of water and electrolytes lost in diarrheal stools and prevention of dehydration.
  • Drink as much as can be taken comfortably in small and frequent sips.
  • Continue ORS even if vomiting is present. Wait for 10-15 minutes after each vomiting and then start taking it again.
  • Packets of ‘oral rehydration mixture’ are freely available at all chemists, primary health centers, sub centers and hospitals.
  • Contents are to be dissolved in 1 liter of drinking water and kept covered.
  • Solution should be prepared fresh (daily) and used within 24 hours.
  • ORS can also be prepared at home if WHO mixture is not available :-
    • A simple mixture of 5 g (1 level teaspoonful) common salt and 20 g (4 level teaspoonful) sugar in one liter of water may be used safely for prevention and correction of dehydration at home until proper mixture is obtained.¬†Juice of two lemons may be added to it to improve taste and provide potassium.



  • ORS can also be prepared using a powdered cereal (powdered rice, ground maize, wheat flour or cooked or mashed potatoes) which is commonly available and is economical. Add half a teaspoonful of salt and 8 heaped teaspoons of powdered cereal to one liter of water and boil for 5 – 7 minutes to form a liquid gruel.
  • The earlier the treatment starts the better it is for the patient.
  • Super ORS– Improvements in ORS has been tried by adding certain amino acids and complex sugars such as rice powder, wheat, potato and maize starch. These solutions lead to decreased stool frequency in addition to rehydration. Rice based ORS has shown reduced stool volume as compared to WHO-ORS in cholera patients.