Rehydration drinks

Diarrhea and vomiting can cause your body to lose large amounts of water, nutrients, and essential minerals called electrolytes. This happens faster and is more serious in babies, young children, and older adults.

Rehydration drinks, (such as Pedialyte, Lytren, or Rehydrate) and sports drinks (such as Gatorade or Powerade) replace fluids and electrolytes. Plain water doesn't provide necessary nutrients or electrolytes and may not be absorbed with diarrhea. Note: Rehydration drinks, such as Pedialyte, are designed for children. Adult rehydration drinks and sports drinks should not be used for babies and young children.

Rehydration drinks don't make diarrhea or vomiting go away faster, but they can prevent serious dehydration from developing.

You can make an inexpensive rehydration drink at home. But do not give this homemade drink to children younger than 12.

Measure all ingredients precisely. Small variations can make the drink less effective or even harmful. Mix the following:

  • 1 quart (950 mL) water
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) salt substitute (potassium-based), such as Lite Salt or Morton Salt Substitute
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar

Last Updated: April 28, 2008

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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