Early recognition and prompt treatment of dehydration is key to halting the progression of dehydration to the severe form and preventing the fatalities associated with increased severity.
As stated before, oral rehydration solution is essential to managing a child with mild dehydration. Consequently, after you as a parent has recognised that your child is dehydrated from the signs highlighted earlier, the next step is administering oral rehydration solution to your child before taking him/her to the nearest health centre for diagnosis and treatment of the cause of dehydration.
You can prepare your own oral rehydration solution at home or buy already prepared form at a pharmaceutical store.
To make the solution at home,
· In one litre of water
· Add 6 level teaspoon of sugar and
· 1/2 level teaspoon of salt
· Wait for the particles of sugar and salt to dissolve completely
· The ORS solution is ready for drinking
You can get 1 litre of bottled water, be sure to use clean, recently boiled and cooled water. Too much salt or sugar may be harmful, make sure you use the right amounts.
Using Prepared ORS
Already prepared Oral Rehydration Hydration Salt is a special combination of dry salts that is mixed with safe water. It can help replace the fluids lost due to diarrhoea.
· Put the contents of the ORS packet in a clean container
· Check the packet for directions and add the correct amount of clean water.
· Add water only.
· Stir well, and feed it to the child from a clean cup.
· Do not add ORS to milk, soup, fruit juice or soft drinks.
Other alternatives to salt- sugar solution home remedy for dehydration are; breast milk, coconut water, rice water. However make sure, these sources are hygienic and properly prepared.
Administering oral rehydration solution
– Before preparation or administration of ORS for your child, wash your hand properly with soap and water.
– When a child has three or more loose stools in a day, begin to give ORS.
– A child under the age of 2 years needs at least 1/4 to 1/2 of a large 250-millilitre cup of the ORS drink after each watery stool.
– A child aged 2 years or older needs at least 1/2 to 1 whole large 250-millilitre cup of the ORS drink after each watery stool.
– You can keep the ORS in a refrigerator but not for more than 24 hrs. If your child needs ORS after 24 hrs, prepare fresh one. Do not keep the ORS for more than 24 hrs.
– Continue to give the child his/ her normal food alongside ORS.
– In addition, for 10–14 days, give children over 6 months of age 20 milligrams of zinc per day (tablet or syrup), give children under 6 months of age 10 milligrams per day (tablet or syrup).
– The best treatment for diarrhoea is to drink lots of liquids and oral rehydration salts (ORS), properly mixed with clean water from a safe source, and take zinc tablets or syrup for 10–14 days.
Signs of improved hydration
You should see symptoms of dehydration disappearing within hours of administering ORS.
· Your child should start urinating more
· The urine will start to look light yellow or almost clear.
· Skin goes back normally when pinched
· Thirst subsides
· Urine has been passed
· Pulse is strong
Danger signs/ when to go to the hospital
Having noted that as a parent, you can manage only the mild form of dehydration, what are the signs that your care is not yielding result or that you need to go to the hospital?
· Presence of blood in diarrhoea or black, tarry stools
· Persistent vomiting
· High fever
· Very dehydrated (feeling dizzy, lethargic, sunken eyes, no urination in the past 12 hours)
A child with diarrhoea should not be given any tablets, antibiotics or other medicines unless prescribed by a trained health worker. Diarrhoea usually stops within three or four days. If diarrhoea persists, consult a trained health worker.
Hospitalization due to dehydration can be avoided if as a parent, you recognise early when your child is dehydrated and promptly begin administration of ORS. Fatalities due to dehydration can be prevented if parents and care givers are well informed about what to do.