If you don’t want to drink a commercial rehydration product with lots of dyes and sugar, either use a packet of commercial rehydration salts or use these resources to make your own.
Include an energy source in your drink — calories are very important to acutely ill patients. Sugars like table sugar of any type or honey are readily available to most people. Even cancer patients who are very concerned about sugar intake should add this small amount of sugar.
This site is aimed at treating life threatening diarrhea in children largely in third world countries. This is the most basic formula. Still, this drink and the instructions on the site can be broadly helpful for anyone with acute or chronic diarrhea.
Here is the basic Rehydration Project formula:
A slightly different formula has been developed by The World Health Organization. Their official formula is more complex but does include additional salts to provide potassium and bicarbonate.
World Health Organization ORS Recipe:
- 3/8 tsp salt (sodium chloride)
- ¼ tsp Morton® Salt Substitute® (potassium chloride) often called Lite Salt
- ½ tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar (sucrose)
- Add tap or bottled water to make one (1) liter (A liter is very close to a quart in volume.)
- Add the dry ingredients to a 1 liter bottle.
- Add enough water to make a final volume of 1 liter; mix well.
- Sip as directed by your physician.
- Discard after 24 hours.
Contains 27 grams of sucrose, 70 mEq per liter of sodium, 20 mEq per liter of potassium and 30 mEq per liter of bicarbonate. The final osmolarity is approximately 245 mOsm per liter.
If you have any concern about the cleanliness of your water, boil it for at least 3 minutes or use bottled water. Filtered water is OK to use as well.
Encourage the affected person to drink at least enough fluid to replace the volume of fluid lost. Estimate as best you can. Most people will need to drink about 3 liters if loosing large volumes of water to diarrhea. Extra fluid will not make your diarrhea worse. For a more precise idea of fluid needs see post Calculating How Much Fluid You Need.
You can add a small amount other ingredients to improve the taste of the formula:
- Squirt of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice
- ½ –1 cup of fruit juice
- ¼ mashed ripe banana or
- ½ –1 herbal or black tea.
- Stevia if desired
Don’t add all of these ingredients at first — choose one or perhaps two.
- Rehydration project. Oral Rehydration Solutions: Made at Home. Accessed 12/2/12. http://rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm
- Rehydration project. How do I prepare an Oral Rehydration Salts ORS solution at home? Accessed 12/2/12. http://rehydrate.org/faq/how-to-prepare-ors.htm
- Kelly DG and Nadeau J. Oral Rehydration Solution: A “Low-Tech” Oft Neglected Therapy. Practical Gastroenterology October 2004. Pg 51– 61.
- King CK et al. Managing Acute Gastroenteritis Among Children: Oral Rehydration, Maintenance and Nutritional Therapy. CDC. Accessed 12/2/12 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5216a1.htm