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An Odd Problem


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I am on dialysis. That means (among many other things) I cannot drink or take in more than 32 ounces a day. I find this extremely hard to do but I have to. Some days I get so stressed I wind up drinking a whole bottle or two of water or soda at once and then getting so ashamed I make myself throw up. Is this bulimia? I had a kidney trasnplant for 10 years that failed in 2005 and during that time I had mild bulimia. All I want to do is drink~~~~I get so thirsty. I feel lost.

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Hi LiveFromNJ-

Welcome to the community and thanks for your question. It must be so challenging to stick to your health care regimen... even though you know what's best doesn't make it easier to follow.

According to the info I found, this is not an odd problem. I think the more accurate term for your condition with be "Polydipsia" or excessive drinking. I did a quick lit search and it sounds like excessive thirst is, unfortunately, an extremely common response to dialysis. It also sounds like people try all sorts of "creative" strategies to deal with thirst and/or prevent/decrease weight gain after they drink too many fluids.

I will admit this is not my area of expertise, but I have a few suggestions. First, I would be honest with the physician supervising your care. Tell him/her that you are excessively thirsty and ask if there are any interventions that he/she recommends. I saw ideas like: changing the dialysis schedule, changing the composition of the dialysis chemicals, and medications, although it wasn't super clear which are best or most effective. I also saw non-medical techniques to deal with thirst: ice cubes, chewing gum, distraction techniques (e.g., listening to music, meditating, etc.).

Second, I would ask for a referral to a psychotherapist (most likely a clinical psychologist) who has expertise in behavioral medicine. He or she can teach you some healthy psychological coping strategies that can help you deal with your restrictive diet and increase your ability to adhere to it. I know that some dialysis centers have psychologists or mental health professionals who consult.

I hope this helps a bit!

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