The Ministry of Public Health warns patients with diarrhea to take ORS solution and avoid ORT drinks
March 27, 2016: The Ministry of Public Health said there are more than 240,000 diarrheal cases in 2016 so far. Diarrheal diseases often occur due to consuming tainted foods and drinks, particularly during the summer season. The ministry urged people to follow the practice for good hygiene “eat hot foods – use serving spoons – wash your hands regularly”. The ministry also suggested patients with diarrhea to drink oral rehydration salts (ORS) solution to compensate for the loss of water and electrolytes, but to avoid using oral rehydration therapy (ORT) because it may worsen diarrheal symptoms.
Dr. Sopon Mekthon (Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health) said that diarrhea is often caused by consuming tainted or pathogen-contaminated foods and drinks. Eating spicy foods, side effects of medications, and certain diseases can also cause diarrhea. Symptoms include watery stool (three times or more) or bloody stool (one time or more) within 24 hours. If these symptoms last less than two weeks, it is called acute diarrhea. But if the symptoms last more than two weeks, it is called chronic diarrhea. According to data from the Bureau of Epidemiology, there are 245,988 cases reported from 78 provinces between January 1st and March 21st of this year.
During the first 24-72 hours of having diarrhea, it is recommended to drink ORS solution and not eat for 2-4 hours. If ORS powder is not available, patients may use a mixture of cooking salt (1/2 teaspoon) and sugar (2 tablespoons) in 750 cc of clean water (such as boiled water). Patients should not take antidiarrheal medications to suddenly stop symptoms. Patients also should not use ORT, which is designed for people who lose water through sweating from exercise. Diarrhea causes the body to lose water and electrolytes, and ORS solution provides water and electrolytes to replenish the loss. However, ORT contains sugar, which causes the body to pull water into the digestive tract and results in an increase of intestinal movement and diarrheal symptoms.
Thai article entitled “สธ.เตือนผู้ที่ท้องร่วงท้องเสีย เลือกดื่มเกลือแร่ชนิดโออาร์เอส หลีกเลี่ยงเครื่องดื่มสำหรับผู้เสียเหงื่อ จากการออกกำลังกาย เสี่ยงถ่ายเหลวเพิ่มขึ้น” by Bureau of Information - Ministry of Public Health; dated March 27, 2016.
The article was summarized and translated by Chansak Suwanchaichinda, Ph.D., MPH
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