How much fluid can I drink?

One of the biggest problems presented by kidney failure is the inability of the patient to pass urine.

Drinking too much fluid places strain on the cardio-vascular system, in particular, the heart.

This means that a very strict regime of fluid contol must be adhered to. The standard fluid limit for dialysis patient is one litre (just over a quart, for our American friends) per day. The question is - is this realistic, and why is the limit set at one litre?

Whilst the one litre fluid limit for dialysis patients is a "one size fits all" solution, an experienced dialysis patient will work out over time what levels of fluid that they are both comfortable and safe with.

A good indicator of how much fluid can safely be removed in a dialysis treatment is 0.8 litres per hour. This means a total of 3.2 litres per treatment. Remember, though, that that 3.2 litres will include both prime and run-back of the dialysis lines (about 0.4 litres), and any food and drink ingested whilst on the machine.

So it will break down something like this -

  • 0.4 (prime and runback)
  • 0.5 (sandwich and drink)
  • 2.3 (fluid carried into dialysis)
  • 3.2 (Total)

Another way to work out how much fluid it is safe to carry whilst limiting the amount of damage being done to your heart, is 3% of your body weight between treatment. Therefore an 80kilogram person would be reasonably safe putting on 2.4kg between treatments (80 x 0.03 = 2.4).

Please remember, these figures are intended as a guide only, and you should make all decisions in relation to your treatment in conjunction with both your dialysis unit staff and doctor.

For information on keeping your fluid down between dialysis treatments, see my article "7 tips for keeping your fluid down on dialysis"


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