The evidence points to the answer being no for a variety of different reasons. First of all, the sports drinks like Gatorade may have enough sodium/potassium to replace sweat losses but not to replace losses from protracted/frequent vomiting and diarrhea. Second of all, the amount of sugar in sports drinks, and some sodas/sugar beverages, causes them to have a
high-osmolarity and can actually cause diarrhea and therefore more fluid/electrolyte losses. Third, sugary drinks like sodas also don't have the sodium and potassium needed to replace electrolyte losses. Fourth, some of the carbonated beverages might cause more stomach distension and promote that nauseated feeling.
A better option would be to choose a solution formulated to have the right amount of sodium, potassium and glucose (sugar) such as Pedialyte. For those of you who want to have additional control over the taste and flavoring of the solution, you can also make your own oral rehydration solution using this recipe used by the World Health Organization:
All that said, an oral rehydration solution is only useful if to the sick person if he/she is willing to drink it. (One of my co-workers told me a story about how his cranky toddler threw a Pedialyte popsicle at him after tasting it). So you might be better off mixing your own where you can control the taste.
- You might be able to to get away with using Gatorade, etc if your diarrhea/vomiting was very mild.
- Infants, frail elderly, and those who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk for dehydration and may need medical care.
- If you show signs of severe dehydration you need to seek medical care.