Fluid intake

Illustration of fluid in the body
You can help yourself and the renal unit team by controlling the amount of fluid you drink.

Click on the man to find out why.See animation

One of the main functions of the kidney is to balance fluid in the body and with kidney failure, the commonest problem is being able to get rid of excess water. Excess water in the body is called fluid overload. It causes high blood pressure and may eventually contribute to heart disease and higher risk of death.

If the water content of the body reaches very high levels, the accumulating fluid causes the body to swell - starting at the ankles, due to gravity - and spreading up the body. In addition, if not treated, the excess fluid will settle in the lungs, causing a life-threatening condition called pulmonary oedema.

As the kidneys become less able to keep the body's fluid level balanced, you will have to watch how much you drink. Some patients have greater restrictions than others, but it's essential for most kidney patients to regulate their fluid intake.

There's no avoiding the fact that dealing with fluid restriction can be difficult at times. To keep thirst under control, gargling with ice cold water, sucking an ice cube, or chewing gum can be helpful. Salt and salty foods should, of course, be limited if not avoided.

The daily fluid recommendation for each patient varies a great deal. Generally, speaking, the more urine a patient produces, the more fluid they can drink. The nursing staff at your Unit will give you individual advice.

The process of monitoring my fluid intake has become second nature to me.

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