How does ORT help patients with Cholera?
Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) has been proven to be safe and effective in treating Cholera, which causes rapid loss of fluids from the gut leading to circulatory collapse and death.
In patients with Cholera, a rice based ORT has been proven to be superior, in increasing fluid absorbtion of the intestines and reducing diarrhoea. Rice starches provide glucose as substrate for the carrier mediated co transport mechanism without increasing the luminal osmolality. Several studies have shown a reduction in fluid requirements when rice based instead of glucose based rehydration solution is used.
ORT takes advantage of a robust back up mechanism for intestinal absorption of salts and water, in addition to the normal absorbtion, which is mediated by a sodium chloride-linked transport system at the brush border of the intestinal lumen into the cell. Cellular sodium - potassium ATPase extrudes sodium into the lateral cell spaces, creating an osmotic and electrochemical gradient that produces a net flow of water and solutes from the lumen into the blood stream.
ORT can dramatically reduce the number of deaths particularly during an epidemic and when given early when symptoms arise. It cannot influence the infectious process, but corrects dehydration and thus saves lives.