The Importance of Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals present in the blood and body fluids which influence the control of the amount of water present in the body, as well as blood acidity, muscle function and other important physiological processes. An adequate balance of electrolytes helps the body maintain fluids at the proper concentrations.

Oral Rehydration Therapy

Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) using a low solution recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), has reduced the number of dehydration deaths caused by vomiting and diarrhea at approximately one million per year. Recent research suggests that the use of oral rehydration solutions has advantages over conventional therapy, and we should make an effort to encourage the use of ORT as first choice for rehydration.

How do ORS work?

Scientific research in molecular biology has made it possible to make a qualified advance considered by many as the most important of the 20th

Oral Rehydration Solutions Formulas

Oral rehydration therapy and the formulation of oral rehydration salts were proposed in the late 1970s by WHO-UNICEF to combat the consequences of diarrheal diseases,

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The Importance of Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals present in the blood and body fluids which influence the control of the amount of water present in the body, as well as blood acidity, muscle function and other important physiological processes. An adequate balance of electrolytes helps the body maintain fluids at the proper concentrations. Examples of electrolytes include chloride, potassium and sodium. Electrolyte levels may become too low or too high when the amount of water in the body changes (causing dehydration or over hydration). The imbalance in electrolytes can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, kidney problems and certain medications.

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Oral Rehydration Therapy

Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) using a low solution recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), has reduced the number of dehydration deaths caused by vomiting and diarrhea at approximately one million per year. Recent research suggests that the use of oral rehydration solutions has advantages over conventional therapy, and we should make an effort to encourage the use of ORT as first choice for rehydration. For practical purposes rehydration can be achieved using solutions with high sodium content, ie 75-90 mmol/l. These are called Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS). Prophylaxis of dehydration and maintenance involves solutions with 45-60 mmol/l of sodium. They are called maintenance solutions. Fruit juices are ineffective due to their high carbohydrate concentration as well as poor osmolality and sodium concentration. The individualized dietary management of the patient during acute diarrhea is the key and should be emphasized.

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How do ORS work?

Scientific research in molecular biology has made it possible to make a qualified advance considered by many as the most important of the 20th century for the treatment of dehydration, mainly for infectious diarrhea due to viruses or entero pathogenic bacteria. This advance was the discovery of the molecular mechanism of co-transport sodium glucose (SGLT), a protein present in the membrane of the intestine cells and responsible for the incorporation of sodium associated with glucose, since the sodium is the most important ion in the osmotic balance for incorporate water.
The intestine is able to absorb electrolytes like sodium thanks to three molecular mechanisms. However, two of them are affected by gastrointestinal diseases being SGLT1 the only active, despite the gastrointestinal condition present. Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is based precisely on this mechanism, capable of introducing into the enterocyte (intestinal epithelial cell) sodium and glucose in a ratio of 1: 1 which facilitates not only the absorption of the ion but also that of the nutrients. Once in the enterocyte the sodium and glucose are separated from the transporter and pass into the bloodstream through the basement membrane creating an osmotic imbalance compensated by the incorporation of water into the body.

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Oral Rehydration Solutions Formulas

Oral rehydration therapy and the formulation of oral rehydration salts were proposed in the late 1970s by WHO-UNICEF to combat the consequences of diarrheal diseases, and they agreed to promote a single solution with an osmolarity of 330 mmol/l. During the 90’s great advances have been made using this type of solution, helping to avoid more than 1 million annual deaths in children under 5 years of age. Subsequently, the ESPGHAM (European Society of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Pediatric Nutrition) recommended a new improved formula. Throughout the time and thanks to the scientific advances, the formulations of the ORS have been changing until the year 2002 when the last type of ORS denominated oral rehydration salts of low osmolality was proposed by ESPGHAN. This organization has focused its efforts on improving ORS compositions to allow better treatment for all children. Today, ORS are the first-line products that meet the nutritional needs of infants, children and adults in cases of mild and moderate dehydration.