What you should know about electrolyte drinks

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Sports drinks are a big business, but they serve a different need than electrolyte solutions for diarrhea treatment. So it’s important to know one type from electrolyte drinks from the other.

In normal circumstances, drinking 8 glasses of water a day will be enough to get you through your daily routine. However, some activities or physical conditions can lead to more fluid loss than others — excessive and/or prolonged exercise, severe vomiting or diarrhea, for example.

In these cases, your normal water intake won’t be enough because your body loses electrolytes in addition to water.

An excessive loss of body fluids could lead to severe dehydration, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you engage in an activity that causes more dehydration than usual, you may experience fatigue, dry mouth, reduced urination and even irregular heartbeats (heart arrhythmias). In such a case, drinking an electrolyte drink will be beneficial.

It is not recommended to substitute one type of electrolyte drink for the other. Given that diarrhea and vomiting both cause severe and acute losses of fluid and electrolytes, the body needs to be replenished immediately. A workout, on the other hand, mainly causes a loss of water and sugar and a minimal loss of electrolytes.

Taking ORT while having diarrhea is not advised because its high sugar content would draw more water into the digestive tract, causing intestinal constriction and worsening the diarrhea.

Please note these important points:

  • People with a heart condition and/or kidney disease should consult their doctor before trying any electrolyte drink, as it may contain ingredients that could complicate their condition.
  • Never mix an electrolyte drink with anything but water — not syrup, soft drink, milk, or even fruit juice — because doing so could affect the proportion of electrolytes in the drink.
  • People suffering from severe diarrhea should avoid electrolyte drinks because drinking them could lead to severe dehydration.

“For happier living, be mindful of what you eat.”

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