The current status of oral therapy in the treatment of acute diarrheal illness

R. B. Sack, N. F. Pierce, N. Hirschhorn

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Diarrheal diseases are a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing countries. This is a literature review and evaluation of the new form of oral therapy, surveying field and clinical studies which have been performed. The etiology and effects of diarrheal diseases are discussed. Oral fluid therapy aims at preventing and treating dehydration and facilitating continued dietary intake, not in terminating the diarrhea. The composition of the widely used fluid therapy solution is explained; there are presently some differences of opinion regarding the optimal composition of the solution. Clinical experience with the therapy in hospitals, clinics, and relatively unsupervised home use is cited. This simple, inexpensive therapy seems to be effective for a wide variety of diarrheal diseases and for people in all age groups. The greatest current controversy regarding oral therapy is whether it should be widely used as a home remedy. Further study will be necessary to measure its effectiveness on a home-use basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2252-2268
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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