Nearly everybody knows that it is absolutely a must to drink electrolytes while training any kind of ordinary activities like cycling, skiing, running and etc. But somehow a lot of people think it is enough to drink just pure water when they fly.
From my alpinism and hiking experience, where this problem arises all the time, I usually can recognize dehydration on quite early stages. And actually I noticed that a tendency to get down with salts happens rather quickly when having consequently intensive flying days. So I always keep my eyes open and try to prevent it by drinking some right stuff in decent amounts all the time. This nasty condition of slowness and tiredness can affect performance quite dramatically, I just start making silly mistakes or lose motivation for flying. And for someone who didn’t face the problem before it might be a bit tricky to address this fading to the concrete reason of dehydration, usually a pilot would just think he/she is tired taking it as a due part.
Here are some first signs which are easy to spot when dehydration stars:
– drinking a lot doesn’t help, you still feel thirsty;
– you sleep enough but feel tired;
– decreased urine output;
– becoming kinda emotionless, I’d call it flat;
– normal amount of stretching in the morning becomes exhausting rather then freshening up.
Some more serious symptoms come from digestion system, there might be kidneys pain, uncontrolled muscle contractions and cramps (often refers to a lack of Ca2+ btw) and etc. These things are for later stages but also might occur rather soon if the one is careless.
It is actually not required to be already rolled down when you start with salts. Drinking standard amounts to keep up the level is always a good idea, it sustains the body and really helps not to lose the drive through the whole flying trip, comp or whatever adventure you have. And it works amazingly good not only for me but I for all my flying fellows who use these electrolytic solutions. Well, the convincing would be the fact that I do not know people who would try electrolytes and they decided it is not hie/her thing. Some might be lazy and not use it all the time, but none of them would say, this doesn’t feel any good when the do drink electrolytes.
There are lots of different prepared drinks in bottles which you can buy in pharmacy. Also anybody knows about simpler analogues like powerrade in regular stores. However, the concentration of salts in them is usually too low and sugars are too high as they are more focused on instant freshening effect for an intensive workout. Therefore it would be a better idea to make solution yourself, which is absolutely not a big deal, if to buy soluble tablets or a powder sachets (usually tablets are more tasty and concentrations are more reasonable — ~1,5 g/l for NaCl and KCl (sodium- and potassium chlorides), the other components are traditionally in compliance to these basic ones. So when choosing it is enough to compare amounts of these two ones in different products.
Usually it is a good idea to drink from 0.5 to 1 l per day, better in the morning before the flight, some people take these solutions in their camel-backs. (I just do not like to have this hassle with washing it out from a tube). Here is a funny note — as a rule of thumb to judge your salts level in mountains — if you drink a decently concentrated electrolyte and don’t feel it is nasty, then you definitely need it!
In Australia I found really good tablets called Gastrolyte in three flavors; in Russia we originally have Regidron, which is awful by taste :), so I prefer to use OPC Alvogen from Netherlands, feels much nicer. There are plenty in pharmacies in any country anyway, so no point to advertise all of them.
If you have some special of them in mind do not hesitate to give me your feedback, please 🙂