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Monitoring Heart Failure

Tip 2: Monitor Your Fluid Intake continued...

Some foods are considered to be fluids, including:

  • Pudding
  • Gelatin (Jell-O)
  • Soups (thin or thick)
  • Popsicles
  • Ice cream

One way to keep track of your fluid intake is to fill a 2-quart pitcher to the top with water and place it in an accessible place in the kitchen. Every time you drink or eat something that is considered a fluid, remove the same amount of water from the pitcher/bottle. When the pitcher/bottle is empty, you have had your limit of fluids for the day.

Note: being thirsty does not mean your body needs more fluid. You need to be careful NOT to replace the fluids that diuretics (water pills) have helped your body get rid of. Here are some tips for decreasing thirst:

  • Nibble on frozen grapes or strawberries.
  • Suck on ice chips (not cubes), a sucker, or washcloth soaked in ice-cold water.
  • Cover your lips with petroleum jelly, flavored lip balm, or lip moisturizer.
  • Suck on hard candy or chew gum (sugarless).

Record your urine output, as recommended by your doctor.

Tip 3: Manage Breathing Problems

If you have increased breathlessness at night, try sleeping in a recliner chair, use more pillows, or use a supportive cushion so that you are resting more upright.

Tips to improve breathing:

  • Listen to your body and slow down when you are short of breath.
  • Conserve your energy by taking breaks throughout the day: read, pay bills, write letters, use the computer for fun.
  • Relax: use music, meditation, or yoga as alternative ways to decrease stress.

If you have increased breathlessness, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, follow the guidelines below (but be sure to get your doctor's approval first):

  • Eliminate 500 mg of salt from your diet for two days (today and tomorrow).
  • Decrease the liquids you drink by 1 and 1/2 cups (360 cc) for two days (today and tomorrow).
  • If you still have difficulty breathing after restricting salt and fluid for two days, call your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your medications.

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