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When Your Thirst Is at Its Worst

By Lee Deuell

If you're having trouble with weight gain from too much fluid, here are several tips that work for me. I've been on dialysis for almost 25 years, so I have a lot of experience with this!

  • Measure your daily allotment of fluid each morning, and put it in a jar in the refrigerator. Then drink only from that container throughout the day. If you drink something else, pour out that amount from your jar.
  • Wait at least until the noon meal before you start to drink fluids.
  • Use a small glass, and have only one or two glasses of something to drink at a meal. Don't drink between meals.
  • Save your beverage for dessert. This will give you something to look forward to.
  • Chew your food slowly to produce more saliva, so you don't need to drink as much with your meal.
  • Set a time to stop drinking for the day. For me, it's 8:00 p.m.—when that time rolls around, I know I can't have any more.
  • Don't eat too much salt or salty foods. Sweet foods can also make you thirsty.
  • Drain your fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Remember, anything that melts at room temperature is considered a fluid—that includes ice, ice cream, sherbet, Jell-O, and the like.
  • Use a fork for foods like ice cream, cereal, and thick soup, but don't drink any of the liquid left in the bowl!
  • Chew gum—it helps produce saliva, which can decrease thirst.
  • Don't eat ice after dialysis—it just increases the amount of fluid intake for the day.
  • Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth (but don't swallow!) to feel refreshed and decrease your thirst.
  • Weigh yourself at least daily. It's easy to see how much you're gaining. If it's too much, be tough with yourself and don't have any more fluid that day.
  • Keep a record of weight gains and losses after each treatment to see how much you gain throughout the year, and modify your drinking pattern as needed.
  • Try working up a sweat by walking/exercising, especially in warm weather. It'll help you get rid of extra fluid.
  • Keep active! If you stay busy, you won't think about being thirsty, and you won't drink so much.

If you're having trouble with weight gains treatment after treatment, try some of these tips. You can break the cycle and drink less—and you'll feel better!

Permission received to post the following information:

Name: Lee Deuell
Cause of renal failure: Inherited
Time on dialysis: 25 years
Treatments used: In-center hemodialysis
Work/other activities: Volunteer as a computer instructor
Date: July 1999

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