Heart Failure: Monitoring Your Weight & Fluid Intake

Overview

Why do I need to track my weight?

Your weight is one way to tell if your heart failure is getting worse or if you need changes in your medication to control extra fluid in your body.

Weigh yourself every day

It is very important to weigh yourself every day and keep a record of your weight. Follow these tips to help get the most accurate weight possible:

  • Use the same scale every day
  • Weigh yourself while undressed or wearing the same type of clothing
  • Weigh yourself at the same time every day
  • Weigh yourself after you urinate but before you eat
  • Write down your weight every day. Use the calendar on the next page or another calendar/tracker.

Know your dry weight!

Your dry weight is your weight when you do not have extra fluid in your body. Ask your doctor or nurse what your dry weight is. Write your dry weight on your daily weight diary/calendar.

Compare your daily weight to your dry weight. Your goal at home is to keep your weight within 4 pounds (higher or lower) of your dry weight.

Your dry weight will change with time. Be sure to ask your doctor or nurse what your dry weight is at every visit.

What if my weight changes to much from my dry weight?

If you are at home, call your healthcare provider if your weight is 4 pounds higher or lower than your dry weight.

Management and Treatment

Limiting fluids

Some patients with heart failure need to limit the fluids they take in. Ask your doctor if you need to limit your fluids and how much you can have each day. Record the limit below, near the measuring charts.

Tracking Fluids

At first, it is important to keep track of all fluids you have each day so you don’t go over your limit. You may find it helpful to write the information on a tracking sheet or calendar. You may also want to keep track of the information electronically, such as with an app on your phone. Keep a daily log until you are able to keep track of fluids without measuring.

You may find it helpful to track your fluids by filling up a bottle or pitcher with the same amount of water as your daily fluid limit (for example, 64 ounces/2,000 cc). Keep the container handy, and every time you have a fluid, empty the same amount of water out of the bottle. When the container is empty, you have reached your daily fluid limit.

Measuring fluids

Fluids can be measured in different ways. The charts below list conversions for fluid measurements and some samples. Some foods are considered fluids, including pudding, gelatin (Jell-O), all soups (thick or thin), Popsicles and ice cream. If you have any questions about fluids, please ask a member of your healthcare team.

Fluid Measurement

  • 1ml = 1cc
  • 1oz = 30cc
  • 1cup = 8oz = 240cc
  • 4cups = 32 oz = 1 quart = 1,000 cc

Common Sizes for Fluids

  • Coffee cup: 240cc
  • Drinking glass (8 oz): 240cc
  • Milk carton (8 oz): 240cc
  • Small milk carton (4 oz): 120cc
  • Juice, gelatin or ice cream cup (4 oz): 120 cc
  • Soup bowl: 160cc
  • Half a popsicle: 40cc

What if I get thirsty?

Being thirsty does not always mean your body needs more fluid. Be careful NOT to replace fluids that diuretics (“water pills”) help your body get rid of. Try these tricks if you get thirsty:

  • Snack on frozen grapes or strawberries
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on hard candy
  • Suck on ice chips (not ice cubes) or a washcloth soaked in ice water
  • Avoid milk, ice cream and salt (sodium) as they can make you thirsty
  • Use lip balm or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to keep your lips moist

If you sweat a lot or are outdoors in hot weather, make sure you do not become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration/not taking in enough fluids are:

  • Dark (concentrated) urine
  • Fast heart beat
  • Feeling dizzy when you move around
  • Very dry mouth and tongue
  • Feeling faint

If you have signs of dehydration, have one or more extra cups of water or other fluid.Reviewed: 10/16

Managing shortness of breath caused by extra fluid

If you have extra fluid in your body, you may feel like you can’t catch your breath. If your shortness of breath is a new symptom or if it is worse than it has been, call your doctor or nurse. The following tips can help you get rid of extra fluid and breathe more easily.

Limit Sodium and Fluids

  • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet for 2 days. For example, if you normally have about 2,400 mg of sodium each day, limit your sodium to about 2,000 mg per day.
  • Reduce the amount of fluids you have for 2 days. For example, if you normally have 8 cups of fluids each day, reduce your fluid intake to 6 cups per day.
  • If you reduce your sodium and fluids for 2 days and are still short of breath, call your doctor.

Try Changing Positions

If you are short of breath at night, use pillows or a cushion so you are more upright. You may also try sleeping in a reclining chair. Tell your doctor or nurse if you need extra pillows or need to sleep in a chair.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/13/2018.

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