What is the current recommendation for a home-made oral rehydration solution if pre-prepared products are not available?
A quick internet search, and indeed a search of our own articles on the bpacnz website, will result in
several slightly different recommendations for a recipe for home-made oral rehydration formula to treat dehydration,
e.g. in people with diarrhoea managed at home. The reason for this is that the recommended formula has changed over
recent years to include less salt and glucose.
The currently recommended formula for oral rehydration solution from the World Health Organisation is:
- 6 teaspoons of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 litre of drinking water
Patients/caregivers should be advised to measure these amounts carefully, and not to make the solution more concentrated
– too much sugar can worsen diarrhoea and too much salt can cause adverse effects such as water retention and increased
blood volume. Making a more diluted solution (i.e. a little more than 1 L of water) is not harmful. The solution can
be stored in a cool place, or refrigerated. It should not be stored for longer than 24 hours.
Commercial rehydration products (which come in various flavours) that are available in New Zealand include:
- Enerlyte, Gastrolyte, Hydralyte and Pedialyte sachets for solution
- Gastrolyte, Hydralyte and Pedialyte tablets for solution
- Hydralyte oral liquid and ice block sachets, and Pedialyte oral liquid
Pedialyte oral liquid and Enerlyte sachets are fully subsidised for patients on prescription, with 10 Enerlyte sachets
subsidised on a PSO. Products may also be purchased from pharmacies and supermarkets.
For children who are dehydrated, oral rehydration solution should be encouraged frequently, in small amounts. As a
general guide, give 50 mL/kg over four hours. Oral rehydration solutions are not usually required for adults with dehydration
being managed at home, however, the same formula as for children can be used. Adults with dehydration should increase
oral fluid intake to 2 L per day.
See: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Diarrhoea and
vomiting in children. Available from: