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Managing fluids while on dialysis.

Managing Fluid
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, and the exact amount you should have each day may depend on your health and the type of dialysis you’re on. People on home dialysis may have fewer dialysis 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.
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Dialysis Fluid Intake

Why do I have dialysis fluid restrictions?

Limiting fluids will help you feel better and stay healthier. Once youre 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

8 thirst tips for dialysis patients

Controlling how much you drink isn't always easy. Try these ideas for managing your fluid intake:

  1. Eat a piece of cold or frozen fruit, like grapes, strawberries, or blueberries.
  2. Freeze your favorite beverage in a bottle and sip as the fluid melts.
  3. Suck on a piece of sugar-free hard candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  4. Drink from small cups or glasses.
  5. Rinse your mouth with mouthwash.
  6. Avoid "fluid traps"—situations where you may drink out of boredom or habit. 
  7. Count to 100 and try to wait for a fluid craving to pass.
  8. Stay cool during hotter months with a misting fan and proper clothes.

weight management for dialysis
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 youre drinking to help you feel your best.

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 nephrologist (kidney doctor) 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?

Measuring Cup

32 Ounces

4 Cupsequals

1 Quartequals

946 millilitersequals

~1 literequals

Get help maintaining your fluids while on dialysis

Talk to your care provider or dietitian to find ways to manage your thirst with dialysis fluid restrictions, such as sugar-free hard candy, ice chips, or frozen grapes. This will help you avoid drinking too much fluid between dialysis treatments.
Get more tips for managing fluids on dialysis
Looking for more ways to keep your fluid intake in check? See how you can make the most of your dialysis fluid restrictions while living the life you love. 
Watch fluid video
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.

  • Soup
  • 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.