Sunday, August 19, 2018

Oral Rehydration -- a PSA

Hopefully, news you can't, and never will need, to use.

So while we were at the emergency communications team meeting the other night discussing Go Kits and Bug Out Bags, one of the members offered some real world observations about first aid kits, to wit, based on the "historical re-enactment" his church did for the youth group -- he's LDS, so I'm assuming he was talking about a Pioneer Trek. (The reason I know about it is that I recalled Howard "Schlock Mercenary" Taylor commented once that he was told not to call it Oregon Trail LARPing...) He was observing that the first aid kit needed blister care supplies, because kids today will get blisters if they have to walk more than a mile, since they are not used to that, and they probably have stylish, not functional, socks. (And their shoes are probably suspect, too.)

Then he made an offhand remark about how simply drinking water is not enough, you need to replace electrolytes, as well.

And that made me remember reading in one of P.J. O'Rourke's books -- All The Trouble In The World, I think -- where he was talking to some American aid official (or maybe non- or semi-official) about famine and pestilence, and the guy reaches into his desk and says that the death rate in whichever part of Africa they were in could be slashed dramatically with "this" -- "this" being a 25 cent packet of oral re-hydration salts.

Oral rehydration therapy - Wikipedia
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a type of fluid replacement used to prevent and treat dehydration, especially that due to diarrhea.[1] It involves drinking water with modest amounts of sugar and salts, specifically sodium and potassium.[1] Oral rehydration therapy can also be given by a nasogastric tube.[1] Therapy should routinely include the use of zinc supplements.[1] Use of oral rehydration therapy decreases the risk of death from diarrhea by about 93%.[2]
The formula for the current WHO oral rehydration solution (also known as low-osmolar ORS or reduced-osmolarity ORS) is 2.6 grams (0.092 oz) salt (NaCl), 2.9 grams (0.10 oz) trisodium citrate dihydrate (C 6H 5Na 3O 7⋅2H 2O), 1.5 grams (0.053 oz) potassium chloride (KCl), 13.5 grams (0.48 oz) anhydrous glucose (C 6H 12O 6) per litre of fluid.

A basic oral rehydration therapy solution can also be prepared when packets of oral rehydration salts are not available. It can be made using 6 level teaspoons (25.2 grams) of sugar and 0.5 teaspoon (2.9 grams) of salt in 1 litre of water. The molar ratio of sugar to salt should be 1:1 and the solution should not be hyperosmolar. The Rehydration Project states, "Making the mixture a little diluted (with more than 1 litre of clean water) is not harmful."

The optimal fluid for preparing oral rehydration solution is clean water. However, if this is not available the usually available water should be used. Oral rehydration solution should not be withheld simply because the available water is potentially unsafe; rehydration takes precedence.

...Sports drinks are not optimal oral rehydration solutions, but they can be used if optimal choices are not available.
Not gonna lie, I don't know what all the ten dollar words in there mean. But, really, in the documentation or inventory of your first aid kit, or even just a 3"x5" index card in there, write down "6 tsp (2 Tbl) sugar and 0.5 tsp salt 1 quart water."

Or, you can get fancy. Found this one researching the subject:
  • 1 quart water
  • half tsp sea salt
  • half tsp baking soda
  • quarter tsp salt substitute (potassium chloride; can use cream of tartar instead)
  • 8 tsp sugar
That supposedly replicates the WHO formulation, described in the Wikipedia quote above.

Or, you can buy them: oral re-hydration packets. Some of these are flavored.

Now, Oral Re-Hydration Therapy such as Wikipedia is talking about is an in extremis thing, not "Been mowing the lawn in the hot sun, I need a glass of iced tea" (or whatever) in someone who is more or less healthy and well nourished. It's usually applied in cases of extreme life threatening illness, the sort that results in diarrhea, like cholera. But some folks just won't admit they're not Superman, in the course of my military career I saw more than a few people rushed to the hospital for what turned out to be dehydration.

And especially in a first aid kit that is expected to be used in true, disaster-type emergency, throwing a ten pack of these in, as well as making sure you have the recipes to make some if you need it, seems like a Good Idea.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Hadn't thought of it 'that' way, but it makes sense. I keep a case of gatorade in the emergency spares stuff, but I'll order some of those packets. Thanks for the lesson!