- A Hidden Source of Fatigue
Written by Gordon Dupont
2000 - This article appears in the summer issue of "GroundEffects"
couple of issues ago we talked about fatigue and how it was a problem that the
industry vastly underestimated and that we vastly overestimated our ability to
cope with. Well now it appears that
we have a further problem that both the industry and we are basically totally
ignorant of. Dehydration has the
ability to induce fatigue and the resulting reduction in judgment – all
without us even being aware of it.
Start With a Few Interesting Facts.
Without water we can live about 3 days.
Our body is made us of about 60% water (women a little less than men for
Our brain is made up of 85% water and requires a very narrow range of
water content to remain at its peak.
We lose about 8 to 10 cups, or just over 2 liters of water per normal day
through breathing, urine, perspiration and bowel movements.
If working outside on a hot day we can lose about two pounds or one liter
of water per hour.
Some Lesser Known Facts
Doctors now say that a whopping 75% of people don’t have enough water.
I.e. they’re dehydrated.
As little as 2% loss in water content begins to cause the brain to lose
alertness and the body to feel fatigued.
Two to five percent dehydration is considered mild but sufficient to
influence how the body will react.
Six to ten percent is considered moderate dehydration and is cause for
Eleven to fifteen percent is severe.
Hospitalization and intravenous will likely be required.
Beyond fifteen percent can end in death.
What are the Symptoms?
thirst is not at the top of the list of symptoms.
We depend on feeling thirsty to keep us from becoming dehydrated and it
has been shown to be a poor indicator.
are some of the most common symptoms or indicators of dehydration.
Lips and later mouth feel dry
Heart rate and breathing increases
Blood pressure begins to drop
Begin to feel fatigued
A nagging headache may develop and become progressively worse
Decreased urine output
Begin to feel thirsty
Begin to become mentally irritated and depressed
Eyes begin to become sunken
Skin begins to become wrinkled
May develop a stomach ache
May begin to experience lower back pain
Become mentally confused
As dehydration becomes severe the person slips into a coma and if the
cardiovascular system collapses, the person dies.
symptoms do not necessarily progress in that exact order and may vary between
little as 2% drop in body water can begin to affect your mental alertness as the
brain begins to react to the fluid loss. Dr.
Kleiner, author of “Power Eating” states this 2% triggers fuzzy short-term
memory, particularly trouble with basic math and focusing on the problems on the
printed page or computer screen. The
problem is we are becoming dehydrated and we may not even feel thirsty yet.
We will begin to feel fatigued as our metabolism begins to slow down.
2% into perspective: A 150 lb.
person would need to lose only 1.8lbs of water to be 2% dehydrated.
On a hot day you can lose that in less than an hour.
as they say, 75% of us are chronically dehydrated than we may be looking at a
major contributing factor to maintenance error. And we don’t even know it.
R. Eichner of the University of Oklahoma states that: “The number one trigger
of day time fatigue and poor performance is not lack of sleep or stress but
the Arctic, or any cold climate, dehydration is a seldom thought of as a
problem. Because it is cold we
often don’t even think of drinking but in the cold the humidity is very low
and we still lose water through breathing and other body functions.
The unknown dehydration leads to a feeling of fatigue and decreased
mental alertness with never a though that a simple glass of water could make the
person feel better.
What do we do?
fatigue, the solution is simple, very simple, drink lots of water.
The old eight, eight oz. glasses of water per day isn’t very accurate.
It doesn’t take into account, body weight, climate or activity.
more accurate figure calls for taking your body weight in pounds and dividing it
in half. That number is the oz. of
water that you require daily. To
that, add 12 to 16 oz. for hot dry weather and a further 12 to 16 oz. if you are
doing strenuous physical work.
is considered a minimum to be sure that you are not dehydrated.
Drinking more than that will do no harm as the kidneys maintain the
correct water content and will simply “expel” the excess.
This excess is thought to reduce the chances of colon cancer by 45% and
bladder cancer by 50%. It is
thought to help flush out the toxins or at least dilute them. Thus we would be
wise to always drink more than the minimum.
you are perspiring heavily, than you will want to also replenish some essential
body salts that are being lost. These
are sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate and phosphate.
Salt tablets will help as will some vitamin tablets.
has made a fortune as a means of replenishing these salts. I understand that you
can now buy “Gatorade” in crystal form very reasonably and it tastes like
Coolaide. If you want to make your own “Gatorade” here is a recipe that will
work and be a lot cheaper.
liter (or quart) of water.
ml. (1/8 tsp) of salt.
ml. (1/3cup) of sugar
ml. (1/2 cup) of orange juice
an optional crystal packet of any flavor you want.
If it has sugar already added to it, than skip adding sugar.
you have a blender, you can even blend in a banana to help balance the
optional addition is 100ml. of cranberry juice.
The acidic in cranberry juice is said to help the kidneys function
if it’s hot and you’re working out in the heat than you will need to drink
about one of those per hour just to keep balanced.
should also be drinking fluid about every 20 minutes in the above conditions in
order to keep the fluid level balanced..
often forgotten source of fluid as well as some those missing salts are fresh
fruits and vegetables. They are
made up of up to 90% water and are, as we know, good for you.
fluid we mean, your “Gatorade” mixture above or plain ole water, milk,
juice, mineral water and flavored seltzers but NOT tea, coffee, or alcohol.
Diuretics do not help Dehydration
you are trying to replenish your body fluid level, tea, coffee and alcoholic
drinks are not the answer. In fact
they make the situation worse because tea, coffee and alcohol are what are
called “diuretics” and cause the kidneys to release more water, resulting in
greater dehydration. If you are
going to drink coffee, tea or alcohol than you better add a water chaser to them
just to counteract their diuretic effect.
of the reasons a person can become “hungover” after drinking alcohol is
because their bodies are dehydrated. While
it certainly isn’t the only reason, it at least is one that can be combated by
drinking plenty of water with the alcohol.
of the most common times for dehydration is in the morning.
We have expelled fluids from our body through the night and than we start
the day with a diuretic called coffee. This results in a further loss of fluids
shortly after. We than begin to
feel fatigued due to dehydration, so we go and have another cup of “pick me
up” diuretic (coffee). It is now
easy to see how we can end up in the moderate dehydration range and not realize
what the problem is.
Nonscientific Dehydration tests
are a couple of non-scientific tests that may assist you in figuring out if you
Lick your lips and if they are dry and taste salty, there is a good
chance you are dehydrated.
Look at the color of your urine. The
darker it is from normal very pale yellow the more likelihood you are
Pinch the skin on your arm. If
it does not go right back into shape than you may be dehydrated.
This seems to work best with older people and is an unscientific nurse
that you have somehow trained yourself to go without water is like training
yourself to ignore a high water temperature indication in your car. The problem
is there - you are just ignoring it.
Journal of Sports Science reported that persons were able to work out 33% longer
if they drank water while working out.
Source: Gordon Dupont - System Safety Services