Mother feeding ORS to infant.

ORS is the cornerstone of
diarrhea control programs,
and it may be administered
in the home for simple
treatment of dehydration.

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Key resources Other helpful websites

Oral rehydration solution (ORS) is the cornerstone of diarrhea treatment in low-resource settings. This simple mixture of sugar and electrolytes costs as little as ten cents and can be given in the home to rehydrate children who have lost fluids due to diarrhea. Oral rehydration therapy (ORT), the broader concept which encompasses ORS, also focuses on replacing lost fluids through breast milk, rice water mixed with salt, soups, and cereals.

A new formulation of ORS with lower sodium and glucose content makes it more efficacious than ever. Clinical benefits of low-osmolarity ORS include reduced stool output, reduced vomiting, and a decreased need for unscheduled IV therapy.1

PATH is working with country partners to implement a comprehensive approach to diarrheal disease control that incorporates new technologies with proven interventions like ORS. For further details, please visit the PATH website.

UNICEF is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to make low-osmolarity ORS available in developing countries and to provide guidelines for its use in treating diarrhea.

By the 1990s, ORS/ORT was critical in preventing more than one million deaths due to diarrheal disease annually. Today, however, knowledge and application has stagnated in some countries, even declining in others.

Key resources

Below are some key documents on ORS/ORT. Please also browse our list of helpful websites for more resources.

Other helpful websites


1 Hahn S, Kim Y, Garner P. Reduced osmolarity oral rehydration solution for treating dehydration due to diarrhoea in children: Systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2001;323:81–85.

2 Forsberg, BC. Diarrhoea case management in low- and middle-income countries—an unfinished agenda. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2007;85:42-48.

Photo: Robin Biellik.