One of the jobs of normal kidneys is to remove extra fluid from the body. When the kidneys fail, dialysis can help remove some of the fluid. Kidney failure patients need to eat a low-salt diet and drink less fluid because their kidneys have trouble removing salt and fluid.
What counts as a fluid?
Anything you drink is a fluid. This includes water, juice, soda, milk, etc. Some foods count as fluids too, including foods that melt like popsicles or ice cream, and watery foods like watermelon, soups and thin stews.
If your child comes to dialysis with too much fluid, the child may feel bad during the dialysis treatment. They may:
- Feel dizzy or faint
- Have muscle cramps
- Have headaches
- Experience nausea
- Pass out during treatment
Over time, too much fluid can harm your child’s body. Too much fluid can cause:
- A type of heart failure
- Your child’s feet or legs to swell up with fluid- This is called edema (e-DEE-ma)
- Your child to feel short of breath if extra fluid goes to the lungs
Signs and symptoms of having too much fluid in your child’s body:
- Trouble breathing
- High or low blood pressure
- Swelling from fluid in the tissue and/or puffiness, commonly in hands, feet, face and ankles
- Lower percent of red blood cells, or hematocrit (HCT), than usual
- Low energy
- Heart problems
How much fluid can your child have?
The amount of fluid depends on how much pee your child makes. Talk to your hemodialysis care team about how much salt and fluid your child can have. Measuring fluids for a while will help your child get used to the limit.
How can I help my child with thirst?
Follow these tips for helping your child when they are thirsty:
- Limit sodium (salt). See tips on next page.
- Ask the dialysis team how much fluid your child can drink each day.
- To feel their best, you need to limit their fluids so that they gain no more than 2-4 pounds (1-2 kilograms) between treatments.
- Choose the right fluids for them to drink:
- Sugar-free, caffeine-free drinks like diet 7UP, ginger ale, lemonade or caffeine-free tea.
- Have your child chew sugarless gum, sugar-free hard candy and especially sour candy, if they are old enough and able to.
- In hot weather:
- Use a mist bottle with a fan to cool your child down.
- Giving a spoonful of chilled applesauce may help.
- Give a frozen piece of your child’s favorite fruit (ask dietitian for a list of low-potassium fruits).
- Stay out of the sun, and stick to shady areas if you can.
- In hot weather, wear lightweight clothing.
- Give crushed ice if your child is old enough and able to eat it.
- Quench their thirst with lemon wedges.
Measure and record the amount of salt and fluid your child eats and drinks each day.