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Physical fatigue describes the inability to exert force with ones muscles. Physical fatigue may bring soreness sin muscles, oxygen debt as well as total tiredness especially when one is restricted to little or no sleep. It also can result from illness or poor feeding habits (Federal Aviation Administration, 2016).
Emotional fatigue regards the inability to engage in light and complex or activities. It results` from engaging in objectionable tasks, unfavourable working marketing environments like lack of necessary tools, poor lighting, and pressure to meet deadlines (Rainford & Gradwell, 2016).
These factors altogether alter the cognitive ability to lead reduced levels of concentration at duty and consequently raising the probability to make errors in the aviation domain especially for pilots and ATCOs (Figley, 2013).
Illness falls in the category of the non-sleep fatigue causes (van Drongelen et al., 2014). Healthy lifestyles are advised for pilots in order to meet the demands of their profession. One’s lifestyle, eating habits and hormone levels influence the fourth circle of fatigue. It is conformed that fatigue is a chief symptom for many health disorders. Medical treatment for diseases are also characterised with fatigue. For example, a prescription of cholesterol-lowering statins and antidepressants may result into muscle weakness and fatigue.
Poor nutrition is among the causes of pilot fatigue (Cosgrove, 2013). Dehydration and eating too much or not eating enough, for lead to health disorders such as excess body weight and low blood sugar level (Perry, 2018. A healthy diet is advised when one is outside flight and duty in order to improve the cognitive ability. A healthy diet indirectly influences increased level of attention/ concentration, efficient communication within the crew, efficient reaction time and sensitivity to time on task, a steady performance, good memory ability and decision making, good mood, and consequently reduced errors in the aviation domain. During flight, consuming considerable amounts of caffeine keeps the crew and especially the pilot alert. Consuming food and water regularly ensures an energetic body not vulnerable to fatigue that results from a dehydrated or a body with low blood sugar level (Perry, 2018). Chia seeds, melon, milk, oatmeal, beans, nuts, crimini mushrooms, sweet potatoes, eggs, and black, green or oolong tea are among the foods that make one alert, reduce muscle fatigue and give the power needed to trigger successful day to day exercises (American Media, 2018).
Dehydration in aviation is not only caused by lack of water in the body but also results from high body temperature, excess caffeine antihistamines, aircraft environment (hot cockpits and flight lines), taking inappropriate fluids. The humidity in the cockpit is normally low and flying for long durations of time in hot summers in high attitudes lead to fluid loss from the body (Federal Aviation Administration, 2016).During dehydration the muscle contraction frequency decreases and if that continues for long, there is an overall drop in body performance management. The brain being 75 % water is adversely affected by dehydration and if not taken of symptoms of fatigue and headaches show up ("the effects of dehydration on pilot performance", 2018).
According to Prentice (2010) fatigue is the number one effect of dehydration. Fatigue from dehydration affects significant mental and physical performance. Dehydration increases the cardiovascular strain resulting form hypothermia and low blood volumes. The muscle metabolism and neurological functions are also affected by dehydration. In dehydration also there is reduced stroke volume and blood flow within the muscles is also affected. Under these resulting conditions, oxygen delivery becomes low (Maughan, Burke & Coyle, 2004)
As noted earlier, emotional fatigue regards the inability to engage in light and complex or activities and is more of a subjective feeling that persist most in prolonged mental activity that results in reduced capacity to engage in more work (Rainford & Gradwell, 2016). Mental boredom associated with long duration flights, personal anxiety, stress or depression, all affect mental activities. Me]Aviation personnel with emotional fatigue shows symptoms like tiredness and sleepiness, poor decision making, carelessness, poor judgement, reduced ability to perceive errors, moodiness. Emotional fatigue or rather mental fatigue is itself a threat to the role of operators and controllers as it comes with slow decision making. Pilots need to have a sharp decision making response in case of anything and that requires emotional soberness. Getting behind tasks, failure to visualize the whole picture and tunnelled attention leads to frequent error and danger and impaired error detection (Rainford & Gradwell, 2016).
This is more of a temporary deprivation of strength and the vigour that results from engaging in physical exercise and preservation of a fixed posture. The condition comes with exhausted and hurting muscles, general physical exhaustion and the unavoidable pressure to lie down or sit (Rainford & Gradwell, 2016). Like emotional fatigue, physical fatigue is a risk to one’s alertness. When there is a rotation work and rest schedule comes with inadequate sleep and the mind of the pilot during layover will still be telling him or her to remain awake. Physical fatigue results from extended duty time characterized with long periods of wakefulness that consequently impacts the sleep pressure. The earlier noted dehydration and poor nutrition fall in this category and are as harmful as identified. Sometimes the pilots and the whole may be under intentional sleep restriction and that affects their concentration spans
These identified physical, health and emotional factors are without doubt strong contributors towards the harmful threats of fatigue and they are hurdles towards the attainment of a convenient and safe environment to work on.
1. American Media. (2018). 10 Foods That Fight Fatigue. Retrieved 26th Sep. 2018 from https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/10-foods-that-fight-fatigue/
2. Cosgrove, B. (2013). Microlight pilot's handbook (8th ed.). Ramsbury: Airlife/Crowood.
3. Federal Aviation Administration. (2016). Aviation Instructor's Handbook: FAA-H-8083-9A. New York: Ravenio Books,.
4. Figley, C. R. (2013). Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. Routledge
5. Maughan, R., Burke, L., & Coyle, E. (2004). Food, nutrition and sports performance II. London: Routledge.
6. Perry, M. (2018). Pilot Fatigue - AviationKnowledge. Retrieved 26th Sep. 2018 from http://aviationknowledge.wikidot.com/aviation:pilot-fatigue
7. Prentice, R. (2010). Aviation weather services handbook. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub.
8. Rainford, D., & Gradwell, D. (2016). Ernsting's aviation and space medicine (5th ed.). CRC Press.
9. The effects of dehydration on pilot performance. (2018). Retrieved 26th Sep. 2018 from http://www.pilotfriend.com/training/flight_training/human/dehyd.htm
10. van Drongelen, A., Boot, C. R., Hlobil, H., Twisk, J. W., Smid, T., & van der Beek, A. J. (2014). Evaluation of an mHealth intervention aiming to improve health-related behavior and sleep and reduce fatigue among airline pilots. Scandinavian journal ofSocial work, environment & health, 557-568