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Reducing your drinking amount each day is probably the biggest challenge for many people on dialysis, especially in the beginning. Here you can find out why this is so important, which drinking amounts are recommended and what could help you to reduce your drinking amount.
Here's what you need to know
Das solltest du wissen
Ecco cosa c'è da sapere
Voici ce qu'il faut savoir
Esto es lo que debe saber
  • The kidneys are responsible for the production of urine in the body

  • If you have renal failure, it is important to drink less to avoid cardiovascular problems in the long term

  • There are many different tricks to reduce the amount you drink - the best way to find out what works for you is to try it out

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What does kidney disease change about me?

When the kidneys are still working properly, they are responsible for producing urine. They filter the blood for excess minerals and toxins and then remove them from the body through the urine. During prevention - before dialysis is started - the kidney steadily weakens and eventually an excess of water builds up in the body. This fluid can no longer be excreted by the malfunctioning kidney. If the fluid retention becomes visible and dents can be seen on the lower legs, this is called edema. Once you start with dialysis therapy, it becomes possible to remove the excess water. The procedure for this is called ultrafiltration. Your body weight is reduced by the dialysis, because water is removed from your body. Signs of fluid overload (edema, shortness of breath) will therefore also disappear. However, because of the reduced urine output, it is still very important that you limit your fluid intake as needed.

Why is a reduced drinking quantity so important?

Even during dialysis, it is essential that you control the amount you drink according to your weight fluctuations. If you drink too much, you risk the dialysis treatment not being able to remove enough water. Although you may not necessarily feel it, too much water in your body is life-threatening for your cardiovascular system in the long run.

So how much can I drink now?

European best-practice nephrology guidelines recommend drinking a maximum of half a litre over your urine volume per day. If you still have a residual urine output, then the value can be adjusted upwards accordingly. Here is a short example: if you still have 600 ml of daily residual urine output, the guidelines therefore recommend drinking a maximum of 1.1 litres (=600 ml + 500 ml) per day. If you have no urine left, you should only drink 500 ml per day. Please be careful in the hot summer and maybe drink a little more.

Everyone is aware that this can be a huge challenge for you. But at the same time, it prevents many problems, some of them life-threatening. Many studies have proven that controlled drinking is very important. Even though it is very difficult, controlled drinking is an important component in preventing increased fluid in the body.

When can I drink more?

Even if our inner laziness doesn't like to hear it, the maths is pretty simple: the more water you sweat out of your body, the more you can drink. This is the safest and healthiest way to manage your thirst, not to mention the other benefits that exercise and sweating bring.

So just exercise and sweat a lot, and you won't have any problems with feeling thirsty! Many dialysis patients also like to go to the sauna. This is also good for you and reduces water in your body.

How can I do this? Tips that could help you

You've probably read tips over and over again. What proves to be helpful, varies from person to person. Some things work for you, some may not. If you're struggling, try a tip or two from this list to see if they might help you:

  • Reduce your salt content in food, and you'll feel less thirsty. This means avoiding salty foods, but also, for example, seasoning with herbs instead of salt.

  • Take medicines with your food to reduce the amount you drink

  • Avoid sweet drinks and try drinking more bitter drinks (such as bitter lemon, tea with lemon)

  • Suck small ice cubes or lemon pieces (the bitter substances in them stimulate salivation and this reduces your feeling of thirst)

  • Suck frozen fruit. Be careful of the amount and type of fruit you eat, as it can contain a lot of potassium. You can check the potassium content of foods easily and conveniently in the Mizu app's food checker.

  • Chew gum without sugar or suck acid drops

  • Use smaller glasses and cups

While one trick may work well for you, a different one may work for someone else. The important thing is to find your own way to keep the amount you drink in check as much as possible. You'll find lots more tips & tricks to help you with your everyday drinking in other sections of the Mizu app.

Medically reviewed by:
Medizinisch überprüft durch:
Verificato dal punto di vista medico da:
Médicalement vérifié par :
Médicamente comprobado por:
Dr. Diego Parada Rodriguez (en)
Specialist in training for Nephrology
  • Fouque D, Vennegoor M, ter Wee P, Wanner C, Basci A, Canaud B, Haage P, Konner K, Kooman J, Martin-Malo A, Pedrini L, Pizzarelli F, Tattersall J, Tordoir J, Vanholder R. EBPG guideline on nutrition. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2007 May;22 Suppl 2:ii45-87.
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