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Saline: Worth Its Salt

Elegant in its simplicity, saline solution is a staple in hospitals.

Summer 2013
saline, IV

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0.9 Percentage of sodium chloride making up saline solution used commonly in intravenous infusion

308 Osmolarity of normal saline, which effectively mimics the osmolarity of body fluids (280–300)

1831 Year when physicians began to experiment with saline solution to treat the severe dehydration that resulted from the blue cholera epidemic sweeping across Europe

2.6 Rough number of liters of fluid an average adult living in a temperate climate needs per day to maintain normal hydration

2 Approximate number of teaspoons of table salt in one liter of saline solution

1 Volume, in liters, of a typical saline IV bag used for rehydrating adults

432,267 Number of normal saline IV bags (of various sizes) used annually at Massachusetts General Hospital (approximate)

4 Recommended number of saline IV bags (or bags of a similar solution) to be carried by each ambulance according to the American College of Surgeons and other medical governing bodies

1.5 Hours required to turn drinking water into saline solution using special hardware in space; standard IV fluid bags are costly to send and difficult to keep from spoiling on long space missions

3 Days a British teen who got lost in the Australian outback without food and water survived by drinking his contact lens saline solution

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