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Intake on Dialysis
Dialysis works to remove excess fluid from your blood, so it’s important to manage your fluid intake. Fluids are typically limited on a dialysis diet, but the exact amount you should have each day may depend on your health and the type of dialysis you’re on. People on at-home peritoneal dialysis may have fewer fluid restrictions, while people on in-center hemodialysis generally have greater limitations to their fluid intake. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how to manage your fluids and feel your best.
Why your fluid intake matters on dialysis
Limiting fluids will help you feel better and stay healthier. Once you’re on dialysis, you may urinate very little—or not at all. Any extra fluid must be removed by dialysis, and consuming too much fluid may cause buildup between dialysis sessions, resulting in the following:
- Headaches and low energy
- Swelling in your face, hands and feet (edema)
- Trouble breathing from fluid in your lungs
- Heart damage from stretching your heart with too much fluid
- High blood pressure that can lead to a stroke
Less salt = less thirst = feeling better
Consuming less salt will help you:
- Control your thirst.
- Avoid swelling in ankles, fingers, waist or under eyes.
- Keep your heart stronger.
- Breathe easier.
Learn how to cut salt and sodium without sacrificing flavor.Find simple ways to limit salt
Measure and track your liquids
People on a dialysis fluid restriction diet should typically limit fluids to 32 oz or less each day. Your doctor or dietitian will discuss your specific fluid requirements. To help you monitor your fluid intake, write down how much you’re drinking or eating throughout the day. It may also help to think about your day to plan what you’re going to drink and when. For instance, if you have a special occasion in the evening, consume less fluid throughout the day.
What does 32 ounces of fluid look like?
HOW FLUID AFFECTS YOUR WEIGHT
Excess fluid in your body shows up on the scale. Therefore, your body weight can be an important indicator of how well your treatments and fluid management are working together. Your dietitian will teach you how to monitor fluid gains and track what you’re drinking to help you feel your best.
5 tips for quenching your thirst and limiting fluids
Controlling how much you drink isn't always easy. Try these ideas for managing your fluid intake.
- Eat a piece of cold or frozen fruit, like grapes, strawberries or blueberries.
- Freeze your favorite beverage in a bottle and sip as the fluid melts.
- Suck on a piece of sugar-free hard candy or chew sugar-free gum.
- Drink from small cups or glasses.
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash.
Smart strategies for outwitting your thirst
Beyond considering what you eat and drink, there are other steps you can take to successfully limit fluids.
- Avoid “fluid traps”—identify situations where you may drink out of boredom or as a social habit.
- Wait 10 minutes for a fluid craving to pass—call a friend, pick up a magazine or count to 100.
- Keep cool on hot days—avoid getting overheated by dressing appropriately, staying in the shade and using a mist bottle with a fan.
FLUIDS AREN'T JUST WHAT YOU DRINK
While water, tea and anything you’re drinking out of a cup are obviously fluids, there are also some foods that contain enough liquid to be considered fluids and should be limited accordingly.
- Ice cream, sherbet, sorbet
- Nutritional drinks
- Gelatin (Jell-O®)
- Ice cubes, ice chips
Tip: Foods that melt or are liquid at room temperature are considered fluids.