Oral Rehydration is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a clinically useful, cost-effective, and safe technique to treat mild and moderate dehydration from diarrheal illness.
  • ORT is as effective as IV hydration and the treatment of choice for children with mild to moderate dehydration caused by diarrhea.
  • ORT can be divided into rehydration and maintenance phases.
  • ORT should have an osmolality of ~245 mOsm/kg, a sodium (Na+) content of ~75 mEq/L, and a glucose concentration of ~75 mmol/L (13.5 g/L) (1)[A].
  • Fruit juices, soda, popsicles, sports drinks, and broth have inappropriate Na and/or electrolyte concentrations for isolated ORT.
  • Although ORT can be prepared at home, commercially prepared solutions eliminate potential errors in homemade recipes.
  • System(s) affected: endocrine/metabolic, gastrointestinal


  • Diarrheal disease is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide, causing ~2 million deaths per year (2).
  • Diarrhea and the resulting dehydration is the source of >200,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States and is responsible for >1.5 million outpatient visits (2).
  • Predominant age: Primarily infants and children, but ORT is effective for all ages.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

ORT takes advantage of the preserved coupled transport of Na+ and glucose in the small intestine during infectious gastroenteritis. Water follows Na+osmotically. Potassium is passively absorbed via solvent drag. An equimolar concentration of glucose and Na+ is most effective for ORT.

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TY - ELEC T1 - Oral Rehydration ID - 116416 ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Stephens,Mark B, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116416/all/Oral_Rehydration PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -