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Understanding Dehydration

Fluid levels and continuous fluid intake are so important that even the slightest decrease of 1% body water content can noticeably reduce a person’s cognitive ability and overall performance.

This 1% decrease in overall body water content is also known as dehydration and it can have many adverse and unwanted effects. Dehydration can occur for multiple reasons, including inadequate fluid consumption, the consumption of fluids that are inappropriate (such as sugary sodas, alcohol or caffeine), or from excessive fluid loss without adequate replacement of water and electrolytes.

The following list indicates the effects of mild dehydration that would likely occur from a reduction of as little as 1 to 2% body water content. A Few Signs of Mild-Moderate Dehydration: Thirst, Decreased mental performance, Reduced attentiveness and critical thinking, Dry or sticky mouth, Dark urine or none at all, Headache, Cramps, Lack of energy, Cool, dry skin.

Hydration in the Workplace

In a workplace setting, these effects of dehydration can greatly impact a company’s overall performance. The employees in any company make up the building blocks, or cogs in the greater machine, as the analogy goes. Dehydration can lead to tired, under-performing staff who ultimately are likely to make an increased rate of mistakes and show signs of lower overall morale.

While hydration is important year-round, it is essential to understand the role that a warm, muggy underventilated workplace will play on hydration and staff performance. When the bodies temperature rises due to external factors, it tries to cool itself by sweating. Due to the increased loss of body water content, natural salts and electrolytes that are imperative to body functionality.

For this reason, it is important that in a warm workplace or when performing active work, employees must be provided with ample fluids to match what is being naturally lost. These can include water, electrolytereplenishing beverages, or even foods that are high in water %. Keeping a steady mix of these options helps to improve the likelihood that staff will consume the correct fluids or foods to stay hydrated and healthy.

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