Oral Rehydration Therapy Should be Taught in Schools

Afable Medical Center – I became flustered as I heard one of the mothers say “No” when asked whether she gave Oresol (an old brand and short name for Oral Rehydrating Salts) to her child who had 3 days of watery diarrhea. I really tought they teach this at the grade school level as I was taught in Las Pinas about Oresol during grade 2. I poked around the history and found that the mother received primary education but was never taught how to prepare ORS. I apologized for my behavior and realized that I was lucky enough that I knew how to prepare ORS at a young age. Most people aren’t and I shouldn’t be judgemental.

I didn’t grow up rich but I did attend a private school. It was the cheapest private school at that time. My mother had to make ends meet just to pay the tuition and I had to be a good student just to stay at that school. I think I taught my mother ORS. It was simple. Just drop the tablet, shake it, drink it and you’ll feel better. No dosing, just drink when you have diarrhea or vomiting. I learned it can be bought without a prescription since our Home Economics teacher made us buy one as an assignment.

Related Story: Mom’s Best Arsenal Against Diarrhea: Oral Rehydration Salts!

It’s a simple remedy that stays in the mind once taught and sticks once practiced. Although as a doctor, I prescribe it with more on dosage control to effectively put out dehydration but as an educator, I think what my school has done for me during grade school should be practiced in all private and public K-12 schools. The information can help save lives since Oral rehydration solutions should be administered promptly especially to kids less than five years of age to prevent death.

Fact: In the Philippines, most teenagers who became pregnant early are grade-school or high school drop outs. Due to poverty, dropping out can’t be helped especially in urban areas. Poverty in rural areas is different in highly urbanized cities. Cost of living is higher in urban areas and places strain on both parents and students. If health maintenance education like Oral Rehydration Therapy can be taught early in school, we can target this population effectively and prevent more under-five deaths.

But this grade-schoolers aren’t five years old or below, you might ask. Yup, but they are future parents.

Related Story: Gatorade in Diarrhea: not First Line therapy

Fact: ORS overdose especially in diarrhea is rare or probably nonexistent. I haven’t encountered one and I would be able to spot it since I’m a doctor. Free and cheap ORS (even the flavored ones) are hard to swallow because of the taste. Glucose found in ORS isn’t sweet. As an experiment, I have attempted to swallow 500ml of it as fast as I could and ended up vomiting it. We can only take a few amounts of it at one time. Letting the child sip it, placing it in droppers, or using teaspoons to administer it is safe. It only takes a little to create clinical improvement. It is safe in all situations.

Theoretically, an overdose can only happen if the child suffers different morbidities. At that time, the child would probably have been admitted for other reasons that would not preclude the use of ORS.
Teaching a child how to treat himself/herself using ORS is as easy as drop, shake, and sip. No need for a thorough explanation.

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor. We can then give more thorough instructions depending on weight and dehydration severity. Other measures can then be initiated but we can be assured that once ORS was started at home, the patient is likely to be away from danger.

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2 thoughts on “Oral Rehydration Therapy Should be Taught in Schools

  1. I’m just curious. Is it safe to drink oresol even if you’re not sick? I recently had a bout of severe allergy and the doctor noted that I’m not properly hydrated. I was prescribed 14 packs of oresol, twice a day for a week and I noticed that I felt better afterwards (very clear urine, no chapped lips, no flaky skin even if no lotion is applied). I’m wondering if I could take it at least once a day as part of my daily routine. In addition, my daughter does not consume the contents of her water bottle, so I’m wondering if it’s safe to give her as well in the mornings.Thank you.

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