A SURVEY of 300 GPs carried out by the Natural Hydration Council has found that tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five consultations in the UK.
While tiredness and fatigue could be attributed to a number of conditions, in more than one in 10 cases (12 per cent), GPs believed dehydration to be the primary cause.
And in almost half (49 per cent) of instances where a patient's symptoms of tiredness and fatigue were linked to dehydration, the patient had 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, a GP in Shropshire and an 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 were aware of how to hydrate healthily.
Statistics have shown that 60 per cent of the UK drink just one glass of water or less a day, and 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 sugar.
Dr Roger Henderson added: "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's, 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 said: "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 highlighted stark regional disparities across the UK, with East Anglia and the West Midlands seeing just under a third of GP consultations for tiredness and fatigue. In Northern Ireland only one in 10 GP consultations were primarily down to tiredness and fatigue.
London came out top for the amount of GP consultations thought to be linked to dehydration, with nearly a fifth suspected to be down to dehydration; while in Scotland and the South West less than one in 10 were thought to be linked to dehydration.
Top five tips
Dr Roger Henderson's top five tips for keeping up your energy levels are:
The online survey was run by PCP Market Research and involved 300 GPs between 4 March and 12 March 2015. Sample sizes in the regions range from 10-41 GPs.