Why Taking ORS for Sahur is Harmful for You

Updated: Mar 24, 2023
By Abdulsalam Yunusa
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Recently, there has been a new trend of taking ORS for Sahur. People are now of the habit of drinking the oral rehydration salts mixture during or immediately after the pre-dawn meal in Ramadan.

This habit is more prevalent in Kano State, even though other states have joined, too, as youth try to escape the dehydration of the hot weather. 

According to the responses of some users who reacted to our questionnaire, this practice is done in other states and is connected to the fact that citizens don’t eat well.

But what exactly is ORS, and what does it do? Is it reasonable to take ORS for your Sahur? Does it have side effects? Let’s find out!

What is ORS?

Oral rehydration salts, ORS, also known as oral rehydration solution or glucose-salt solution, is a mixture of modest amounts of salts and sugar used to prevent and treat dehydration. It was adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1978 as its primary tool to combat diarrhea. 

According to research, the use of ORS had resulted in about a 93% reduction in deaths —especially in children— previously caused by diarrhea from cholera or other diseases.

Also Read: How To Avoid Mouth Odor During Ramadan

What Does ORS Do?

When ORS is mixed with water and orally consumed, it helps prevent and treat dehydration. Failure to appropriately rehydrate dehydrated patients, e.g., as a result of cholera, as and when due, is a likely cause of death.

Your body requires some amounts of salts (e.g., sodium and potassium), electrolytes, and sugar for normal functioning. You lose a significant amount of these when you have diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, using only water to rehydrate the patient will not be sufficient.

Is ORS Bad for You for Sahur? 

ORS is generally safe for consumption. You can easily buy it from stores and pharmacies without any restriction. However, just like all other drugs, ORS has side effects; these include vomiting, high blood sodium, and high blood potassium.

The side effects are usually seen when it is inappropriately taken. The current trend of taking ORS for sahur is likely to increase the prevalence of medical cases resulting from such side effects, including stomach upset and nausea.

What Should You Take for Sahur Instead?

Since you have practically not lost any significant amount of electrolyte or salt during sahur and you aren’t likely to do so during the fasting period, you need not consume ORS.

It suffices for you to drink an adequate quantity of plain clean water, juice, broth, or soup. 


As I explained in this article, the effective use of ORS is to prevent dehydration in people at risk (e.g., those actively vomiting or having diarrhea) and to rehydrate already dehydrated patients (e.g., those were suffering from cholera). 

Unlike in the cases mentioned above, where the body loses salts and electrolytes and needs to be replaced, water is the main thing lost while fasting. Therefore the use of ORS for sahur has no medical basis and is thus uncalled for.

Avoiding this trend is especially important for patients diagnosed with hypertension or any heart or blood vessel disease. These diseases can be worse by the high blood sodium and potassium levels that could result from the inappropriate use of ORS.


Can ORS be harmful?

Oral rehydration salts are generally safe and well-tolerated by your body but can result in side effects such as high blood sodium, high blood potassium, vomiting, etc. Nevertheless, the side effects are rarely seen.

When should you not take ORS?

Drugs should only be taken when absolutely necessary. It would help if you did not take ORS when you are neither at risk of dehydration nor already dehydrated.

When vomiting persists despite correct ORS administration, signs of dehydration develop, there is an intestinal blockage, or the person is unable to drink due to a lower level of consciousness, ORS should be withdrawn and fluids are given intravenously instead.

Who should not drink ORS?

Despite its several benefits, ORS can not be taken by some patients. Examples are unconscious patients and patients who cannot take food and water by mouth.

Is it good to take ORS daily?

If you are dehydrated or at risk of dehydration, it is advised that you take ORS until you get better. However, some health professionals recommend that you go to the hospital for better evaluation and treatment if symptoms persist after three days of home treatment with ORS. Despite losing fluid through vomiting, when you take ORS, your body will be able to retain some of the fluids and salts you need.

Does ORS raise BP?

ORS is safe for hypertensive patients; however, some hypertensive patients could occasionally experience a rise in blood pressure while using it because of the salt content. Therefore, I advise that such patients consult with their doctors to get appropriate advice.

Is ORS good for kidney patients?

As with hypertensive patients, kidney disease patients should also thread with caution and remember to take ORS only when its benefits outweighs the risks. If you have kidney disease, ensure to ask for your doctor’s advice.

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