First Aid: Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS)

The Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is an excellent treatment for all causes of dehydration. It is just what the thirsty body needs to restore the lost fluid. The water, salt, and sugar in the formula team up to speed the patient’s recovery. The quantity of sugar in the ORS can be varied depending on patient preference. It can be increased up to 4 tbsp or reduced to 2 tbsp if desired by the patient. For some people, the ORS will taste too salty. In this case, increase the water content to 1.5 or even 2 quarts leaving the remainder of the formula unchanged.

Oral Rehydration Salts - 3 Pack

Oral Rehydration Salts can be purchased in pre-made packets. Click here to purchase.

You can either purchase Oral Rehydration Solutions pre-made like shown above or make them yourself using the simple recipe below:

Adult Oral Rehydration Solution

  • 1-quart clean water
  • 1 level tsp table salt
  • 3 tbsp table sugar

Children’s Oral Rehydration Solution

  • 1.5-quarts clean water
  • 1 level tsp table salt
  • 4 tbsp table sugar

Fluid treatment is indicated for dehydration whether from flu or another cause. If nothing comes of the symptoms, fluid therapy is harmless. The principles of rehydration used in adults are the same as for children but the ORS formula is a little different. Be persistent in your efforts to get as much fluid in the child as you can.


If you detect or suspect that dehydration is developing, administer the ORS by mouth. If the patient is too ill to drink, someone must sit with them and administer the fluids using a teaspoon or the baby bottle to get one spoonful or dribble from the bottle down the patient’s throat until she is strong enough to drink alone. Don’t stop until the patient has been able to keep down at least a quart of fluids, which may take several hours. You will know you are making headway with fluid therapy when the patient becomes more alert and begins urinating, an indication that their fluid deficit is partially restored. While these are good signs, more remains to be done. With sick patients like these, you need to “push the fluids” so don’t let your guard down. If they are too weak to use a glass and straw or squeeze bottle, try an 8 oz. baby bottle, which may be easier to handle. Your patient will be very tired. Let them sleep for a couple of hours and then get them to drink more fluids. Be insistent; it is really important.

You can drink the ORS plain or add fruit flavorings or natural herbs like tea, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, or mint. A number of excellent powdered fruit drink products are available at the grocery store that can be mixed with the ORS. Once the patient is well hydrated and eating, there is no further need for the ORS. Even if the patient is not eating but can drink and remains well hydrated, you can switch them to one of the other fluids listed for use with the clear liquid diet such as juice, bouillon, or tea.

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