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Dialysis Fluid Restriction: Tips for Not Over Drinking

Updated on February 16, 2017
Dominique Powell profile image

Dominique earned an MBA at Keller Graduate School of Management and is now creating a new blog site to offer insight into embracing ifel

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I'm So Thirsty

Having a fluid restriction is a difficult part of being on dialysis, but it's vitally important to try to stick to the one liter a day limit. Since urination is low or nonexistent on dialysis, every bit of fluid taken in stays in until your next dialysis treatment. Liken it to pouring water into a pitcher...you being the pitcher. The fluid is in the pitcher until someone pours it out. That excess fluid build-up makes you swell up (edema), particularly in your feet and ankles. It accumulates around your heart and in your lungs and can cause congestive heart failure or pneumonia. It also makes your blood pressure go up. High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, strokes, and can even damage your eyes. My pressure was out of control for a while, which caused scar tissues to form on my retinas and permanently damaged my vision. Also, too much fluid can make your dialysis treatments very hard on your body, especially your heart. Now, sticking to only one liter a day is not easy, especially when it's hot outside, but it's one of those things that has to be done to live a better quality of life on dialysis.

I was on dialysis for 23 years (I had a transplant for about 6 of those), so I had a long time to hone the craft of what I like to call "conservative drinking." And I was able to stay under 2 kilos between treatments, most of the time...but never more than 3 which was me being rebellious. A lot of it has to do with deciding to embrace dialysis and shedding all that anger and bitterness. Plus, I don't like feeling sick, and drinking too much will make you short of breath and really unable to get around or function. I mean, walking becomes a chore. This made me willing to do the right thing. And sometimes will power had to get me through. I wasn't perfect at it, but as time went on I stayed on target more often than not. Then, it became a matter of pride for me to be able to go to the dialysis center and step on that scale to see that I hadn't had too much to drink. And eventually, it just became a part of me and what I did every day. It became a part of my lifestyle.

I don't want this to seem like a lecture, but it's important for your well-being to be mindful of your fluid intake...in fact it's a matter of life and death. So, I'm going to share the things I did to manage and hopefully some of my tips will be helpful for you, too. Or at least get you going in the right direction. First, be aware that the fluid restriction is to drink no more than 1-3 liters (34oz or 1,000cc per kilo) between dialysis treatments. Shooting for 2 liters all of the time is ideal.

These are some of the other things that may assist with regulating fluid intake:

  1. Cutting down on sodium intake: A low sodium is part of the dialysis diet (low sodium is about 2,000mg to 3,000mg depending on what your dietician and doctors feel is right for you); this means no fast food, no chips, no salt at the table, very little, if any salt, when cooking...I won't lie, I did use an ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt when I cooked which is a small pinch, but I would recommend talking with your dietician/nutritionist at your dialysis center before doing that (which I did by the way); low sodium intake will help you not feel so thirsty

  2. Freeze pineapple chunks: Buy pineapple chunks and put them in the freezer in a plastic container and eat a few when felt thirsty...it quenched my thirst without needing to actually drink anything; I know it sounds weird, but it was very refreshing. Try it... Some people freeze grapes, but I never did so I can't speak on how effective they would be (disclaimer: pineapples are okay for a renal diet, but everything in moderation)

  3. Count ounces: a kilo equals about 34-40 oz.; whenever you drink something, write the amount down and keep a running tally so that at the end of the day you will have a pretty accurate idea of how much fluid weight you've gained; eventually it will become a part of your routine...eventually you won't even have to write it down anymore and you'll have a pretty good idea of [almost] exactly how much fluid weight you've gained before stepping on the scale at the dialysis center

  4. Get yourself a few different 8-oz. cups and only drink out of those; you could drink up to 5 of those every day and pretty much stay in the safe zone that was mentioned in tip #3

  5. Chew [chewing] gum: Doublemint worked for me (this is not an endorsement); it kept my mouth from feeling dry, so I didn't need to drink as much; some people try hard candies, but I found that they made me feel more thirsty

  6. Remember that anything that is liquid at room temperature counts as fluid: gravy, ice, popsicles, and jello just to name a few

  7. When you feel thirsty, eat a couple of ice cubes...each ice cube is about 1oz, so it could help quench your thirst without over-drinking; of course this only works if you eat a few cubes, not a whole tray...LOL Oh and don't add ice to your cup unless you count it when you are keeping track of what you are drinking

  8. Take medications with no more than 3oz. of liquid...or just time taking them so that it corresponds with eating a meal, so whatever you are drinking with my meal can be used with meds.

These are the things that worked for me. I hope they're helpful for you, too.

Party Punch

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    • Dominique Powell profile image
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      Dominique Powell 3 years ago from Maryland

      For a person who is on dialysis, generally 34-40 ounces (one liter) is the limit per day. However, this amount may vary depending on whether the person has any kidney function remaining and is making urine. This would be something that he or she would discuss with their doctors and/or dietician.

    • sadstill22 profile image

      Poca 3 years ago from Hubpages, My World

      8 glasses a day of water, should be sufficient right