- One fifth of GP visits down to tiredness and fatigue
- Dehydration thought to be the cause of one in ten consultations for tiredness and fatigue
- Half of GPs would prefer to have more time to look at people’s hydration habits
- GPs advise people follow the NHS recommendations on daily fluid intake
Tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five (21 per cent) GP consultations in the UK according to a new surveySurvey run by PCP Market Research, conducted with 300 GPs via an online survey between 4th March and 12th March 2015. Sample sizes in the regions range from 10 – 41 GPs.
Whilst tiredness and fatigue could be attributed to a number of conditions*, in more than one in ten cases of tiredness and fatigue (12 per cent), GPs believed dehydration to be the primary cause. That’s according to an independent survey of 300 UK GPs carried out by the Natural Hydration Council.
In almost half (49 per cent) of instances where a patient’s symptoms of tiredness and fatigue have been linked to dehydration, the patient has been surprised that dehydration was the diagnosis. Plus in more than a third (35 per cent) of cases, patients reported feeling better after drinking more water.
The research also found that more than half of GPs (53 per cent) agreed that they would prefer to have more time to look at people’s hydration habits.
Dr Roger Henderson, GP in Shropshire and adviser to the Natural Hydration Council said: “I see many people in my surgery who are feeling tired all the time. There are, of course, several reasons that could be causing this, but a surprisingly common cause is that they are dehydrated. Many of my patients do not drink enough fluid each day and only believe they are dehydrated when they start to feel thirsty. Yet other symptoms of dehydration appear before this, including fatigue and tiredness, headaches and poor concentration.”
Despite the links between tiredness and dehydration, only four per cent of GPs strongly agreed that patients are aware of how to hydrate healthily. Recent statistics revealed that 60 per cent of the UK drink just one glass of water or less a dayZenith International, UK Bottled Water Report, April 2014.
Official NHS guidance suggests adults should drink 8-10 200ml glasses of fluid a day and children 6-8 glasses. While all fluid counts towards this target, water is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate as it contains no calories or sugarhttp://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx.
Dr Roger Henderson continued:
“When people start to ensure they are staying fully hydrated they are often surprised at how much better they feel, both physically and mentally. It is therefore vital that drinking enough water becomes part of our daily routine. What this study shows is that as well as contributing hugely to the nation feeling tired all the time, dehydration and its effects is adding to the numbers of people trying to get a GP appointment at a time when the NHS is under immense pressure.”
Kinvara Carey, General Manager of the Natural Hydration Council commented:
“We know most people don’t drink enough water, but we were really surprised to discover that dehydration could be contributing to this syndrome of being tired all the time. Many GPs have told us that people aren’t aware of how to hydrate healthily.”
The research also highlighted stark regional disparities across the UK, with East Anglia and the West Midlands seeing just under a third (see charts below for regional statistic breakdown) of GP consultations for tiredness and fatigue. In Northern Ireland only one in ten GP consultations are primarily down to tiredness and fatigue.
London came out top for the amount of GP consultations thought to be linked to dehydration, with GPs in the city highlighting that nearly a fifth are suspected to be down to dehydration. Whilst in Scotland and the South West less than one in ten are thought to be linked to dehydration.
Dr Roger Henderson’s five top tips for keeping up your energy levels
- Make sure you drink enough water through the day; aim to have 8-10 glasses dailyhttp://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx. Avoid sugar as this can cause energy dips in the day.
- Even if you feel sluggish and low in energy, make the effort to do 20-30 minutes exercise daily. Even a brisk walk around the block will be enough to energise you and reduce fatigue.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time, do not eat or drink caffeine before going to bed and move the TV out of the bedroom!
- Eat regularly, and don’t skip breakfast. Aim for three meals a day, with a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish and lean meat. Try to choose these foods rather than processed and sugar-rich foods and drinks.
- Keep your alcohol intake within approved limits. Too much alcohol can rob the body of essential nutrients as well as lowering energy levels and causing low moods.
*Other common causes of tiredness and fatigue are:
- Thyroid problems
If you think you may be suffering from any of these conditions it is advised that you seek medical advice.
Published 26 May 2015