13 Creative Ways to Control Fluid Intake for Dialysis Patients


One of the critical functions of your kidneys is removing excess fluid. For a healthy person, the kidneys filter about 180 liters of fluid a day.

Think about that. Imagine 180 one-liter bottles of water, or 47 one-gallon jugs of water. That’s a lot of fluid. But what happens when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly? Fluid retention. If you don’t make lifestyle changes to control fluid retention, it can lead to:

  • Swelling in the ankles or feet
  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Difficulty with dialysis treatments and cramping
  • Negative impact on quality of life

Fortunately, you can make choices to prevent fluid retention when you’re on dialysis. Here are 13 creative ways to control fluid intake:

1. Limit your fluid intake to about 4 to 6 cups per day. That includes what you drink, in addition to foods that contain water.

2. Not sure how much you’re drinking per day? Use a measuring cup to keep track, and avoid consuming too much.

3. Keep a written record, or use a mobile app to record your fluid intake. This will help you learn to limit fluids and develop a habit over time.

4. Avoid or limit foods high in sodium. Skip fast food and processed meals high in sodium for Dialysis-Friendly meals made from fresh ingredients. Why? Too  much salt makes you thirsty.

5. Instead of taking medications separately with a glass of water, have your medicine with meals.

6. Use small-sized cups or even a shot glass, instead of regular cups or mugs for water.

7. Only drink when you’re thirsty.

8. Step on the scale daily. It’s a great way to keep your weight in check and identify fluid retention-related weight gain, so you can take action before it becomes a problem.

9. Feeling thirsty? Instead of reaching for a glass of water, try sour candy or gum.

10. A little bit of lemon juice on water or ice can help satisfy thirst, too.

11. Use mouthwash, but don’t swallow.

12. Instead of gulping down a drink, use ice cubes. You’ll consume less fluid this way.

13. Freeze grapes or berries, and enjoy as a snack to quench your thirst.

Making the effort to limit fluids when you’re on dialysis will protect your health and your quality of life.