Responding to hot weather

Hot summer days can be a challenge when you are on dialysis and trying to keep your fluid gains to 2 kilograms between treatments. Drinking more fluid is not the best way to stay cool when you feel dehydrated and thirsty — doing so can push you over your recommended daily fluid allowance and cause complications.

Food and drink tips

  • Limit the amount of salty foods you eat — salt makes you thirstier.
  • Use frozen treats like Popsicles and ice cream to cut the amount you drink.
  • Try drinking cold liquids instead of hot ones.
  • Snack on low-potassium vegetables and fruits that are ice cold, like chilled sliced pears, apples, grapes or strawberries.
  • Try freezing berries or grapes for a cold, refreshing snack.
  • Sip your beverages slowly. Sipping will let you savor the liquid longer.
  • Use small cups or glasses for your beverages.
  • Freeze your allowed water in an ice cube tray.
  • Freeze Kool-Aid or grape, apple or cranberry juice in an ice cube tray.
  • Try swallowing pills with cold applesauce instead of a liquid.

Temperature tips

  • Wear loose and light cotton clothing.
  • Wear a hat when out in the sun.
  • Wet and freeze washcloths to drape around your neck to keep you cool.
  • Try running cold water over your wrists. If your dialysis access is in your arm, run the water over your forearms for a few minutes.
  • Place a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help cool the air.
  • Take a cool shower and get your hair wet. You lose 10 percent of your heat through your head. Keeping your hair wet will act like an air conditioner.
  • Go somewhere with air conditioning — a church, restaurant, mall, grocery store, community center or movie theater.
  • If you enjoy swimming (and don’t have a catheter), find a wading pool, swimming pool or lake to cool down in.

Because most dialysis patients don’t urinate, you are usually not in danger of dehydration during hot spells, especially if you eat and drink normally. During hot weather, staying inside and keeping cool is a good way to avoid serious heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Questions? Call the Northwest Kidney Centers nutrition services department at 206-720-3990.