Oral rehydration therapy is cited to have been a cornerstone in addressing infant mortality rate since 1980. Generally, ORT is defined as replenishing the body of needed fluids to restore functional capacity to normal. Noted, hydration therapy is believed to contribute to the decline in infant mortality rate during the 1980s, which significantly dipped from an estimated four million deaths in 1980 to slightly over one million deaths by 1990. The common cause of death during this period is attributed to chronic diarrhea and other secondary causes. Statistically, ORT has been noted to improve recovery from diarrhea-associated diseases in Egypt, Mexico Philippines Brazil and the USA. In some cases iv rehydration is given if the patient cannot sit to drink due to acute phase of dehydration. Of recent, this has been the case in treating dehydration associated with the Ebola virus.
Symptoms of Acute Dehydration
- Extreme thirst. Water or sport drinks are not sufficient enough to subdue thirst in acute dehydration.
- Continued episodes of diarrhea beyond one day. Fluid retention is noted to be minimal if at all.
- Infants may demonstrate increased sleepiness or fussiness, whereas adults exhibit confusion or irritability.
- Concerning appearance, mouth, skin and mucous membranes are noted as quite dry. Visually, skin appears wrinkled or shriveled.
- Vitals show fast heartbeat and low blood pressure levels.
Treatment and Benefits
Most agree thirst may not necessarily be the primary indicator of acute dehydration. Dark-colored urine or amber-colored urine may be a better indicator of this condition. For children, physicians may treat with over-the-counter Pedialyte. Also homemade ORT can be made with one liter of water, e.g., one quart, combined with one-half teaspoon salt, six tea-spoons sugar. A physician can advise concerning available medicines for adults.
The benefits include reduced mortality rate internationally. Further, intravenous rehydration has been found effective for treating acute gastroenteritis. The Centers for Disease Control note ORT has created a decline in cholera in under-developed countries. Also, ORT is a cost effective means for treating acute dehydration. An outpatient course of treatment may be possible if the physician feels symptoms may divert immediate hospitalization. In some cases, ORT is suspected to result in a short recovery time of three to five days. Restored ambulation has been noted to be one of the earlier recovery strategies.