Within the last 5 years several sweat patches have been released as wearable hydration monitors. While these patch-based systems estimate fluid and electrolyte losses during exercise to track dehydration their use as “hydration monitoring” tools are limited primarily by the nature of having to sweat to provide measurements, thereby only providing indication of fluid lost during exercise versus hydration status.
When comparing the MX3 hydration testing system (HTS) to sweat patch-based systems, several key advantages can be highlighted for the MX3 HTS.
An important feature of our system is the ability to measure hydration status at rest, a feature that is not possible for sweat patch-based systems. Through measuring hydration at rest, the MX3 HTS allows users to understand their fluid balance as it relates to their salivary osmolarity (SOSM) score prior to training or undertaking work-related physical activity. This importantly provides a window of opportunity for rehydration if an individual is dehydrated so that when they begin their physical activity, they are optimally hydrated. As we know, during exercise or work-related activity, there is almost always a net loss of fluids, despite efforts to rehydrate, therefore having an objective measure of hydration status prior to activity is imperative to provide a buffer in helping reduce the detrimental effects of dehydration.
Another important feature of our HTS, is the ability to track rehydration and recovery. This is possible through measuring SOSM for individuals who are actively rehydrating following exercise or work-related activity or through assessment of SOSM the following day to understand whether sufficient fluid and/or electrolytes have been consumed for adequate rehydration and recovery. While sweat patches can give an estimate of fluid and/or electrolyte losses, they do not provide a measure of rehydration and recovery.
While single measurements of hydration status in time are valuable and provide key insights on helping individuals understand their current fluid balance prior to exercise or work-related activity, it is also important to track hydration trends over time. For instance, chronic dehydration can have significant impacts on health and wellbeing through increasing vulnerability to certain disorders i.e., chronic kidney disease as well as reducing overall organ health and impacting cognitive and physical performance. As the MX3 HTS provides the ability to measure hydration status frequently, anytime, anywhere, it provides a distinct advantage over sweat patch-based systems in monitoring hydration trends over time to identify individuals who may be chronically dehydrated and who may not be aware of it.
The MX3 HTS enables much greater frequency of testing for both teams and individuals. This is due in part to the rapid and convenient nature of our saliva-based test but is also facilitated by the relatively low cost of an individual test versus patch-based systems i.e., $0.5/test (MX3) vs $6-12 (Patch-based). Due to the greater amount of data gathered by our system, hydration trends can be much more easily established, including highlighting individuals who may be more susceptible to dehydration.
Most sweat sodium tests, including the MX3 Sweat Test, provide data on sodium loss gathered through sweat obtained by a patch located on the body. This measure is then used to estimate whole body electrolyte replacement requirements. Therefore, the greater the accuracy of the single point sweat sodium concentration measure, the more meaningful the electrolyte replacement strategy that is employed. The MX3 sweat test has been benchmarked against a laboratory electrolyte grade electrolyte analyzer to ensure our sweat sodium concentration is accurate. As per other professional sweat test providers we recommend our sweat sodium concentration measure be paired with a nude body mass loss (BML) to provide an accurate estimate of total sweat sodium lost.
While the MX3 HTS provides significant advantages over sweat patch-based hydration monitors, the two technologies can certainly be used in a complimentary approach. For instance, the MX3 HTS can be used to initially prepare an individual to be optimally hydrated prior to exercise or work, with a patch-based system then providing fluid loss monitoring during activity and the MX3 HTS then used to track rehydration and recovery.