When you have kidney failure your body is unable to filter and control the amount of liquids in your body. Fluid restrictions refers to the limitation of fluids you put into your body to prevent an overload of fluids in your system. This means drinking less fluids and also controlling the amount of certain foods you eat that contain a large amount of fluid.
What is the point of fluid restrictions?
When your body is unable to filter out the amount of fluids it should due to kidney failure, your body could react badly to an overload of fluids. When your body cannot get rid of excess fluids, it can result in worsening health conditions. Health problems can start with headaches, feeling sluggish, shortness of breath, and increase to more severe health conditions. Fluid overload can cause high blood pressure and severe swelling of the extremities, called edema.
Edema is the buildup of fluids in your body that causes swelling. Edema usually starts in your ankles and moves up your body. If left untreated, the swelling and fluids could travel up and settle in your lungs. This is a life threatening condition called pulmonary edema.
The amount of fluid restrictions is directly related to the level of kidney failure. The higher the function of the kidneys, the better able your body is to flush out excess fluids. Your doctors will help you determine what level of fluid restriction you need to follow.
What about dialysis?
Dialysis is an artificial replacement for the function of your kidneys. It can help you with fluid retention by helping to rid your body of excess fluids; however it cannot do all of the work for you. First of all, dialysis is typically only done for a few hours two or three times a week. Your body’s fluid levels need to be controlled at all times. Not only that, but the better you are able to control your fluid intake, the more comfortable dialysis will be for you.
How does fluid restriction affect the foods I eat?
The foods we eat often contain significant amounts of fluids. Depending on your level of fluid restriction, you will need to monitor all forms of fluid intake. Foods like soup, ice cream, jello, popsicles, gravy and even syrup can make a big difference. Your sodium intake also can have a large impact on how much fluid your body retains. Stay away from salt and high sodium foods. Instead, look for foods that are marked as “low sodium” or have no salt added.
What are some steps I can take to restrict fluids in my diet?
Start by drinking fewer fluids. If you are thirsty, only drink a small amount of water or consider sucking on ice chips instead of filling a glass. Be wary of the foods you eat. Stick to low sodium foods that do not have a high fluid content. If soups or cereals are on the menu, try eating them with a fork to drain off some of the fluid.
Avoid over excursion or overheating. When your body is working too hard or gets overheated, it will crave fluid and make you very thirsty. Try to avoid these situations.
Remember that every bit of fluid counts. Take note of every sip. Even the sip of water you use to take your medicines needs to be accounted for.
If you have been put on a fluid restrictions diet for kidney failure, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Fluid restriction may seem daunting, but once you are taking steps to control your fluid intake you will notice how much better you feel. You will get the hang of it, and it will make all the difference.
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