Disruption of the salt-water balance

Symptoms of dehydration

These are all signs that your body needs more fluids:

  • Dry mouth, rapid heartbeat
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Nausea, fainting
  • Dark or little urine

1Dehydration

When your body is too dry and needs more water and salts, it is called „dehydration“. It is important to know that when you or your children are sick with diarrhea, vomiting or both, you need more than just water, you need salts and sugar. You need Alvogen ORS.

Our bodies contain a lot of water, but that water also contains electrolytes, essential for the salt-water balance that is so important for our wellbeing.

How much water there is in our bodies varies with age. 


2Symptoms of dehydration

Headache and thirst are often the first signs of dehydration or first sign of a disruption of the salt- water balance. The headaches are often described as similar to hangover headaches.

Dark urine color is also a clear sign. The urine color should be light- yellow, darker color means your body needs more fluids.


3What happens in dehydration?

The water in the body is divided in two groups: the water inside the cells, and the water outside the cells. The water inside the cells contains very little sodium, but a lot of potassium. The water outside the cells, our blood etc., contains a lot of sodium, but little potassium.

When we lose fluids from the body by vomiting, sweating or diarrhea, we lose the same proportions of water and salts as in our blood, or a lot more sodium  than potassium. That is why when we are thinking about what salts we need to recover, we need sodium most of all. 


4Treatment for Dehydration

The foundation for treating severe dehydration with oral solutions is the sodium-glucose mechanism in the gut. The cells need glucose to take up sodium, and this transport mechansim stays intact in spite of illness. This makes it possible for the body to absorb more water than it loses, even in severe diarrhea, like with cholera.

The original recipe for oral rehydration solution from the 1960´s has been slightly modified, but is still used all over the world and by WHO and UNICEF. It is believed to have saved millions of lives, especially of young children suffering from diarrhea.


References:
Ruxin, J. (1994). Magic Bullet: The history of oral rehydration therapy. Medical History, 38, 363-397.
UNICEF and WHO. (2001). Reduced osmolarity oral rehydration salts (ORS) formulation. New York: UNICEF / WHO.