Controlling the intake of fluid can be important for patients with heart failure.

Why is it important to control fluids?

Water and salt retention leads to an increased amount of fluid in the blood. Your heart has to work harder to push this increased amount of blood around your body. The excess fluid may be pushed into your lungs, making it harder to breathe, into the abdomen making it more difficult to eat and digest food, or into your lower legs.

How can you control your fluids?

Your doctor may prescribe you drugs called diuretics to help you get rid of the extra fluid you are retaining. You should take care not to replace this water through drinking extra fluids though.

Your doctor or nurse may recommend an amount that you should be drinking on a daily basis. For most patients with heart failure this varies between 1.5 and 2 litres. If you are asked to limit your fluid intake this means that you should not drink more then 1.5 to 2 litres of water, juice, ice cubes, coffee, milk, soup, tea or fizzy drinks.

Top tips for limiting the amount you drink:

  • use small cups instead of mugs
  • try to spread your daily allowance over the whole day
  • try drinking very cold or very hot fluids - it takes longer
  • if it is very hot or you have a fever or diarrhoea, you should drink an extra 100-300 ml.

Top tips for when you are thirsty:

  • suck on a ice cube
  • limit caffeinated drinks (including coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks)
  • limit alcoholic drinks
  • use lemon and glycerine mouthswab sticks
  • chew gum
  • eat frozen fruits
  • add lemon juice to your tea or mineral water.

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