Refreshment Without the Extra Fluid Gain

By Claire Clemens, MS, Dietetic Intern

When we think of warmer weather, many of us imagine sitting outside enjoying the beautiful season with a beverage in hand. In order for dialysis patients to make that vision a reality and stay healthy, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to prevent extra fluid gain during warm days. Remember, managing fluid gain between dialysis treatments helps prevent high blood pressure, heart failure and heart rhythm disturbances.

Stay out of the hot sun during the middle of the day. On hot days, we end up sweating and drinking more. While those around you may worry about dehydration, this is very rare in people on dialysis and you won't need the extra salt and fluid that others may need. Try to enjoy the warmer weather in the cooler morning and evening hours for a more pleasant kidney-friendly experience.

Choose foods low in salt so you don't become as thirsty. The more salt we eat, the more we feel the need to drink. Outdoor events like picnics and cookouts are often full of salty main dishes, sides, and condiments. Foods like hot dogs and brats, fried chicken, pickles, ketchup and mustard, cheese and chips all make us more thirsty. At your next event, try grilling up some chicken and corn on the cob (without gobs of butter and salt). Have ½ cup of watermelon on the side. Your thirst will thank you.

Keep your blood sugar under control if you're diabetic. High blood sugars damage the kidneys and increase urine output. It also makes the body pull fluid from your tissues into your blood, which can make you feel more thirsty. This is just one more reason –on top of keeping your kidneys, nerves, eyes and heart healthy – to try to have good blood sugar control.

If you find yourself drinking too much fluid, here are a couple of thirst-quenching ideas to try instead of drinking:

  • Suck on a lemon or lime wedge
  • Fill a small spray bottle with your favorite beverage and "spritz" your mouth instead of drinking
  • Eat sour candy or chew gum (sugar-free if you have diabetes)
  • Freeze small pieces of fruit (grapes or strawberries work well)
  • Freeze fruit juice in ice cube trays
  • Rinse your mouth with chilled mouthwash

What counts as fluid?

  • Water
  • Ice cubes
  • Coffee and tea
  • Milk, cream and creamer
  • Juice
  • Soup and broth
  • Popsicles
  • Ice cream, sherbet and shakes
  • Gelatin
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Liquid nutrition supplements