Not everyone with heart failure needs to limit their fluid intake. This typically happens in more advanced stages when the body holds onto every last drop of water. Your doctor will let you know specifically if you need to limit your fluids. Fluid intake includes water and all other liquids in the foods and drinks you consume—think soft drinks, tea, milkshakes and soups.
In these advanced cases, your heart is already working overtime. With extra fluids onboard, your heart then has to work even harder to pump the fluids around. Extra fluid can lead to weight gain; swelling of the feet, legs, and stomach area; trouble breathing; and lack of energy. Checking your weight every morning allows you to catch any changes quickly.
To keep your body from holding onto extra water, your doctor will also suggest a low-salt diet. They may also prescribe a diuretic or “water pill.” Both can be helpful, but a fluid restriction may still be required.
Types of liquids that count
Remember, it’s not just water or even the beverages you drink that you need to keep track of. All liquids—whether you’re eating or drinking them—count toward your intake. Here are some examples:
All beverages: Water, coffee, tea, soda, juice, alcohol, sports drinks, coffee creamer, liquid medicines, etc.
Foods that can melt: Ice cream, popsicles, frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cubes.
Liquids that make up a food: Soups and stews, gravy, sauces, pudding, gelatin, yogurt, condiments and syrup.
Foods that naturally contain a lot of water: Mostly produce like berries, melons, pineapple, oranges, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, celery, etc.
Tips to help you control your fluid intake
Here are some tips to help you manage your fluid intake:
- Use small glasses and drink slowly.
- If some meds can be taken with food, use applesauce to help swallow your pills instead of water.
- Plan your fluid intake and space it out across the day.
- Sucking on ice cubes may be more enjoyable than sipping on small amounts of water. The cubes last in your mouth longer, keeping it from feeling dry.
- Keep track of your fluid intake.If you’re thirsty, try these tricks:
- Chewing gum
- Rinsing your mouth with water and spitting it out
- Sucking on hard candy
If you’re having trouble managing your fluid intake or find it too much to handle, know that you’re not alone. Talk with your doctor or schedule a session with an expert coach. They can offer support and can help you work through any specific issues you may be having.