Oral Rehydration Salts
Also: Oral Rehydration Therapy. Described by The Lancet as perhaps “the most important medical discovery of the twentieth century.”
Two point two million people die every year from diarrhoea. Nine out of ten are children under five years of age.
If this seems a terrible statistic, consider the following. Prior to 2000, the number was over six million a year. What has caused this remarkable drop in infant mortality is nothing more than eight tablespoons of salt, one of sugar, in one liter of water. Oral Rehydration Salts are the unnoticed medical miracle of the twentieth century.
Diarrhoea kills by dehydration. It does this through ionic imbalance within the gut – the gut lining secretes salt ions which draw water after them, resulting the massive ‘ricewater stool’ type of diarrhoea. However, sugar (glucose) can carry salt with it across the gastrointestinal epithelium. This restores the ion balance and draws water across, rehydrating the sufferer and preventing them from dying.
Today, five hundred million sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts are produced per year, and distributed by Unicef to the children in sixty countries. For effectiveness and sheer simplicity, Oral Rehydration Salts have to be humanity’s finest invention.
Submitted by: Hugo Schmidt