The introduction of oral rehydration, by WHO in 1971, has greatly simplified the treatment of cholera and other acute diarrheal diseases. The aim of oral fluid therapy is to prevent dehydration and reduce mortality. It has been the experience of workers at Calcutta, for instance, that as many as 90 to 95% of all cases of cholera and acute diarrhea can be treated by oral fluid alone.
Oral fluid therapy is based on the observation that glucose given orally enhances the intestinal absorption of salt and water, and is capable of correcting the electrolyte and water deficit.
Intravenous infusion is usually required only for the initial rehydration of severely dehydrated patients who are in shock or unable to drink.
Maintenance Therapy for Cholera
After the initial fluid and electrolyte deficit has been corrected (i.e. the signs of dehydration have gone), oral fluid should be used for maintenance therapy.