Dehydration is one of the most serious complications for Ebola patients. In fact, preventing dehydration caused by the disease could contribute to significantly lower Ebola fatality rates, according to one UK-based doctor.
Here’s why dehydration is such a concern: Two of the most common symptoms of the disease – severe diarrhea and vomiting – rapidly deplete the body of water. Over several days, many Ebola patients are unable to replenish fluids normally, and they become severely dehydrated.
Yet, there is a low-cost, easy-to-administer treatment for dehydration caused by the disease. It’s called oral rehydration therapy, or ORT, which we wrote about on the DripDrop blog recently.
Recently, NPR wrote a story about three Nigerian doctors who credited drinking an oral rehydration solution – like DripDrop – with helping them prevent dehydration caused by Ebola. Each drank roughly a gallon or more every day, and all three were able to beat the life-threatening disease.
One of the most surprising claims from the NPR story: According to UK-based Dr. Simon Mardel, the Ebola fatality rate would half, if infected patients were able to rehydrate frequently with an ORS.
Oral Rehydration Rehydrates Faster
One reason ORS is so effective at treating dehydration is because it can mitigate fluid losses caused by Ebola symptoms. Severe diarrhea and vomiting, as well as extreme fever and excessive sweating – which are all common symptoms – rapidly deplete the body’s water reserves and make it extremely difficult to rehydrate normally.
But the body doesn’t just lose water, the body also pours out essential electrolytes, which play an important role in fluid balance and hydration.
ORS contains an ideal ratio of these electrolytes, designed to replenish those lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. In addition, this higher sodium content helps the body retain water, which is important for patients battling vomiting and diarrhea. Plus, ORS helps speed up rehydration by activating the sodium-glucose co-transport in the gut, effectively pulling additional water into the bloodstream.
DripDrop: The First Great-Tasting ORS
The NPR story is titled “I’ll (Gag) Drink To That: Oral Rehydration Key For Ebola Patients,” because many field ORS – due to their required higher sodium content – taste “dreadful,” according to the author. That’s true.
Although higher sodium content is especially important for rehydration, it doesn’t taste great. And that’s one reason sports drinks aren’t effective rehydrators when fluid losses are extreme. (They’ve minimized their sodium content for taste).
But DripDrop has improved that about ORS.
DripDrop is the first medical-grade ORS to combine great taste with international health community standards for sodium content.