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 for dialysis patients:

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.