Why You Need to “Sip” an Electrolyte Drink

Dr. Lauren Motto, PharmD

Confusing instructions are the last thing you need when not feeling well, so why do all pharmaceutical products have them? “Sip slowly and frequently” sounds like easy directions, but how slowly is “slowly,” just how often is “frequent,” and what is the size of a “sip”?

When dehydrated, drinking an oral rehydration solution (a clinical electrolyte drink) can be a rapid way to rehydrate, but if you don’t follow the instructions correctly you may find that you aren’t recovering as quickly as expected. Hopefully this post can clear up how to properly consume electrolyte drinks or oral rehydration solutions!

What is a “Sip” of Liquid?

Unfortunately, there is no set value to define “a sip” as this varies based on mouth size and drinking habits. Researchers (including University of Seonam College of Medicine and the Rehabilitation Institute Toronto Canada) set out to answer this mystery. Based on their findings, a sip is approximately 15 mL, or about 0.5 oz of fluid. Even though “sip” has now been defined, don’t let this stop you from drinking the amount of liquid that feels best for you at the time.

How Fast Should You Drink Oral Rehydration Solutions?

You will want to sip an ORS approximately every couple of minutes when dehydrated. The idea of frequency has to do with keeping a schedule in order to make sure you are drinking about a cup of ORS every 15 minutes. If you are mild to moderately dehydrated it’s important to put the proper amount of fluid back in your body in a timely manner.

Instead of “sip slowly and frequently,” you may hear someone say, “one gulp every 15 minutes.” How much is a gulp? Well, a gulp is about 80 – 100 mL (it all goes back to mouth size) or around 3 oz of fluid. While this is not an exact science, it is easy to see that having a few sips a minute will equal a gulp.

Click here to view our directions and dosing chart.

What’s the Best Kind of Electrolyte Drink?

Using an ORS instead of any kind of electrolyte drink is a good idea because you want to make sure whatever amount of fluid that gets in will count. ORS is the most effective rehydration solution because it contains the right balance of glucose and sodium to active the sodium glucose pump. When nauseous or experiencing vomiting it is often difficult to swallow a lot of liquid at once, so keeping hydrated with anything can be difficult.  Even if you want to Hydrate rapidly, it is still better to drink slowly than swallow a lot quickly. The reason is because you want to give your body the opportunity to absorb the fluid it needs to recover.

Whenever you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of dehydration, drink the amount of ORS that is most comfortable for you, and if concerned, always feel free to contact your doctor.

Now you can buy Hydralyte products on our online store.