Treatment of mild to moderate dehydration in children with oral rehydration therapy

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PurposeTo review current literature on the effectiveness of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in the treatment of mild to moderate dehydration in children.Data sourcesRecommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), World Health Organization (WHO), selected research articles (2000–2006), and Internet sources.ConclusionsDehydration is a common diagnosis in pediatric primary care. The literature indicates that dehydration is more often treated with intravenous (IV) therapy when ORT would be equally effective. ORT is an effective treatment for children with mild to moderate dehydration. ORT could be used more frequently rather than IV rehydration therapy. The use of ORT versus traditional methods of IV hydration matches the nursing philosophy of holistic care by enhancing client comfort and autonomy.Implications for practiceCurrent practice in the treatment of mild to moderate dehydration in children does not match both AAP and WHO guidelines, which are based on evidence supporting ORT effectiveness. Treatment with ORT allows children more flexibility to be treated at home and thus decreases hospital stay. Evidence shows that the time required to initiate ORT is actually quicker than IV therapy and allows for a less stressful therapy that can be performed in the home.

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