Many health professionals, during this pandemic and after returning to a normal course of work, report symptoms of dehydration. According to research, as of July 23, 2020, 65% of over 3,200 health professionals who have returned to active practice claim that out of 65 symptoms of the virus, dehydration is at the top of the list as the most reported symptom. Patients experience fainting in the offices, which leads to difficulties in solving their current health problem.
Water – the basic human need
The human body is an amazing machine, but like any refined piece of equipment it has physical parameters and limits that simply need to be respected. Water makes up 60% of the human body. Every organ in the body contains a large amount of water: 73% of brain and heart tissue, 83% of the lungs and 64% of human skin. The human body needs water to function properly.
Dehydration occurs when the human body loses more fluid than it ingests, creating a mineral imbalance, which in turn affects the way the body functions. The average man should consume about 3 liters of water per day, while the average woman about 2 liters per day. There are many causes of dehydration, but excessive sweating and insufficient fluid intake are the main ones. Dehydration usually results from excessive heat.
At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal. In a healthy body, short-term dehydration is less likely to have an impact in the long term, but in chronic or prolonged episodes of dehydration it is different. It can affect the brain, kidneys, circulation, respiration and blood pressure, and is therefore the basis for a wide range of serious physical conditions.
What affects the dehydration of health professionals?
During this period, health professionals wear a full range of protective equipment as opposed to the previous one, such as a visor, respirator and operating mask. Some of them remove such equipment only during a break, while others do not remove it at all during the entire work shift due to increased workload. As a result, they lose more fluids, which requires more intake.
Additional risk factors
In addition, the mechanical regulation of temperatures through air conditioners and heating devices has a great role in increasing the dehydration of health workers. Any such device causes a decrease in the level of humidity in the room in which we stay.
Temperature regulation is also a critical component. In offices, the most common problems arise between employees’ differences in their need for cold or hot. Whereas, some air conditioning systems are simply not stable enough to provide adequate temperature control. Working in a hot environment can be dangerous for workers. The human body is built to regulate temperature challenges, but can be forced by excessive sweating and insufficient hydration. Fans can improve air circulation, but the constant movement of air leads to evaporation, which can also contribute to dehydration.
External factors also play a big role. Climates with low humidity increase the risk of dehydration. Dust particles in the air, windy climates and air quality problems affect respiratory function. Pollen and mold can cause nasal congestion because it reduces nasal breathing and increases through the mouth. It also affects a person’s emotional state. Saliva flow decreases as stress and anxiety increase.
How can health professionals prevent dehydration?
When one begins to feel thirsty, the body already experiences symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration. The longer the body is dehydrated, the greater the potential for short-term and long-term health side effects. Most often, it is recommended to drink 8 glasses of water a day. One glass half an hour before a meal for better digestion. While, after the meal it is good to spend an hour and drink water, for the body to absorb nutrients. Hyperhydration can also occur if one drinks too much fluid, but that seems unbelievable nowadays.
Regular hydration is a key step. Although it may be difficult, it is still important for healthcare professionals to drink plenty of fluids before and after work, as well as during breaks. Many reach for liquids that claim to improve hydration. Be aware that many products have very low pH and high titratable acidity, which are factors that increase the risk of tooth decay and erosion.
Energy and sports drinks are other popular options that have hidden consequences. Many have high levels of caffeine, various sugars and high sodium content, which can have a negative effect on the kidneys. Some recommend water with fruit or a slice of lemon, but even a small amount of juice lowers the pH.
Nutritional intake is also important. Lighter meals are recommended, especially during hospital work. Fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products, such as yogurt, have high levels of humidity and can contribute to the overall daily intake of fluids. Frozen pieces of fruit also offer good nutritional value. Processed and fast foods usually contain large amounts of salt. Salt is a preservative, prolongs the shelf life of food and is used as a flavor enhancer, but excessive intake contributes to dehydration. So instead of resorting to a traditional snack, such as potato chips, look for products that have no sodium or no added sodium. It may be difficult at first, but practicing a low-sodium diet will help you fight dehydration, and over time it becomes appare