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3 Surprising Facts About Oral Rehydration

Oral rehydration therapy – the science that DripDrop is built on – has been around for more than three decades. But this ground-breaking treatment for dehydration has hugely successful in that short timeframe. For instance, the therapy, in which patients drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS), is one of the most cost-effective treatments for dehydration in the world, and it saves millions of lives each year.

Many of us, though, have never heard of “oral rehydration.” And it remains underutilized in the U.S. We’ve written about the science of ORS in the past, if you’d like to learn why ORS is so effective. But there are many other reasons why ORS is so interesting. Here are three surprising facts about oral rehydration:

1. In three decades, ORS has saved 50+ million lives

ORS was first put into medical practice in 1971, during a cholera outbreak in an Indian refugee camp. Using ORS, doctors were able to continue to treat patients after running out of IV saline solution. And a surprising thing happened: ORS helped doctors decrease the mortality rate from 36 percent, to just 3[i].

Since then, ORS has been used widely in the developing world to treat patients suffering from diarrhea-caused dehydration. Experts estimate that since 1980 ORS has saved more than 50 million lives worldwide[ii], and the World Health Organization puts the number even higher at about 60 million. Why? ORS quickly reverses dehydration caused by diarrhea – the No. 2 cause of death worldwide for children. In 1980, 5 million children died from diarrheal diseases; today that number is below 2 million.

2. Studies have confirmed that ORS is as effective as IV therapy

One 2002 study[iii] examined the effectiveness of ORS compared to IV therapy in children with acute diarrhea. The researchers found that ORS treatment resulted in shorter length of stay (225 minutes, compared to 358) for patients, as well as fewer hospitalizations (1 compared to 4) and greater patient satisfaction.  Another extensive review of research[iv] concluded that there was “no clinically important differences between ORT and IVT.” In fact, it’s estimated that up to 90 percent of cases of mild-to-moderate dehydration caused by diarrhea can be treated with ORS.

3. ORS costs just a fraction of IV treatments

An ORS like DripDrop costs about $4 per liter. That’s a miniscule price compared to what people pay for IV therapy in hospitals. According to a 2013 New York Times investigation, patients in New York were charged up to $600 or more for IV therapy at local hospitals, which included the cost of administering therapy and for the $1 bags of saline. Unfortunately, IV therapy cannot be administered at home, placing an even greater financial burden on mildly and moderately dehydrated patients.

DripDrop is a doctor-formulated rehydration drink based on the remarkable science of oral rehydration therapy. The difference? DripDrop is the first ORS to combine medical-grade hydration and great taste.

[i] Gerlin, A. (2006, October 16). A Simple Solution. TIME Europe, 168(17), pp. 40-47.
[ii] Yee, A. (2013). Profile: The icddr, b—saving lives in Bangladesh and beyond. The Lancet381(9875), 1350.
[iii] Atherly-John, Y. C., Cunningham, S. J., & Crain, E. F. (2002). A randomized trial of oral vs intravenous rehydration in a pediatric emergency department. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Medic156(12), 1240-1243.
[iv] Hartling, L., Bellemare, S., Wiebe, N., Russell, K., Klassen, T. P., & Craig, W. (2006). Oral versus intravenous rehydration for treating dehydration due to gastroenteritis in childrenCochrane Database Syst Rev3(3).

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