In the 1960s, researchers discovered a revolutionary formula that has saved the lives of millions of children with around the world. Oral Rehydration Solution - known as O-R-S - is a deceptively simple combination of natural sugars, table salts and small amounts of necessary chemicals such as potassium. Mixed with water, O-R-S can be given to children with gastroenteritis - diarrhea or vomiting - and is usually more effective at treating these problems than any other drug.
But doctors have long noted that some parents don't give O-R-S to their children. Instead, they'll give them carbonated drinks that are flat - no longer fizzy. Doctor A. Reece sees this frequently. He's a pediatric emergency physician at Watford General Hospital in Hertfordshire, England.
Dr. Reece thought that this use of carbonated drinks was inappropriate. So, he and a colleague set out to review all the literature they could find on how useful carbonated drinks, such as colas, would be for children with diarrhea or vomiting. They found no evidence that carbonated drinks are effective for treating children with gastroenteritis.
And that the outcome of these studies shows that there is not enough minerals, not enough sodium, potassium, for example, in carbonated drinks compared to what's recommended in oral rehydration solution? and they contain far too much sugar.
Dr. Reece says children who are dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea need these minerals. Potassium, for example, is necessary to keep the heart beating regularly. Dr. Reece says "It is tempting to give children who are having diarrhea and vomiting fluids that they will tolerate, and that they will like. Because of the high levels of sodium, for example, in the oral rehydration solution, it isn't that palatable, however if the child is dehydrated, usually we find that they will drink it and we have ways that we can try of putting small amounts in so that we get enough volume in over a required amount of time.
And Dr. Reece says even though O-R-S seems too simple to be good - it is the right thing to give children with gastroenteritis.
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