How to Treat Dehydration
The Rehydration Project provides the following rough guide to the amount of ORS needed in the first 4 to 6 hours of treatment for a mildly dehydrated person:
- Up to 11 pounds: 200-400 ml
- 11-22 pounds: 400-00 ml
- 22-33 pounds: 600-800 ml
- 33-44 pounds: 800-1000 ml
- 44-66 pounds: 1000-1500 ml
- 66-88 pounds: 1500-2000 ml
- 88+ pounds: 2000-4000 ml
For quick reference, a rehydration chart is provided at the end of this article.
If acute diarrhea is present, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that milk products be withheld for 24 to 48 hours because they may be difficult to digest. However, if you are breastfeeding, you should continue to do so. Infants who are bottle-fed should continue to drink formula diluted to half strength. Young children should not drink soda, juices, or sports drinks such as Gatorade. Unlike ORS, they do not contain the right amount of glucose, sodium, chloride, and potassium to properly balance the electrolyte levels.
As your child improves, the pediatrician may recommend what is called the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
If you find that your child shows signs of moderate to severe dehydration, you should seek medical attention. Most likely, doctors will draw some blood to check your child's electrolyte levels and prescribe intravenous fluids (IV). Don't be surprise if treatment includes nasogastric (NG) tube feedings, in which a small tube is placed into the child's stomach through the nose so that fluids may be administered.
Lastly, to prevent the spread of the virus that is causing the diarrhea, it is very important to wash your hands very well and often.