To evaluate the impact of food on the efficacy of oral rehydration solution (ORS), a randomised, controlled clinical trial was conducted in 182 adults with cholera. After initial rehydration with an intravenous polyelectrolyte solution for four hours, the patients were randomised to receive one of four rehydration therapies: glucose based ORS and no food for the first 24 hours (group A), glucose based ORS plus food from the beginning of treatment (group B), rice based ORS with no food for the first 24 hours (group C), and rice based ORS plus food from start of therapy (group D). Tetracycline was given after 72 hours to all patients. No significant differences in ORS intake, stool output, and duration of diarrhoea were noted between groups A and B and between groups C and D. A substantial and significant reduction in stool output was, however, shown in the groups who received rice based ORS irrespective of feeding. These results show that food does not potentiate the efficacy of either glucose based or rice based ORS in adults with cholera. Rice based ORS compared with glucose ORS substantially reduces purging in cholera patients.
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