A to Z Health Guide

What Is Dry Weight

What is dry weight?

Your normal weight without any extra fluid in your body is called "dry weight." Extra fluid can be dangerous and cause extra strain on your body, including your heart and lungs.

When you have kidney failure, your body depends on dialysis to get rid of the extra fluid and wastes that build up in your body between treatments. 

When first starting dialysis, finding your dry weight may take a few treatments. Be sure to tell your dialysis care team if you experience cramping, dizziness, or nausea during or after treatment. These symptoms may happen if  too much fluid is removed, or if fluid is removed too fast.

If you have too much extra fluid in your body, you may need longer or more frequent hemodialysis treatments. There is a limit to how much fluid can safely be removed during each dialysis treatment.  

How is my dry weight calculated?

Your dry weight is measured in kilograms. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds.  Most hemodialysis patients are advised to limit their weight gain per treatment to no more than 1 kilogram per day (2.2 pounds) between dialysis sessions. 1 kilogram may not sound like a lot.  However, when you think of it as almost 4-7 pounds of fluid that needs to be removed, you can start to see how important it is to limit how much fluid you take in  between treatments.

How do I know if I am at my dry weight?

  • Your blood pressure may be within your normal range after dialysis or before your next session.
  • You do not experience lightheadedness or cramping between dialysis sessions.
  • You do not have swelling in your legs, feet, arms, hands, or around your eyes.
  • Your breathing is comfortable and easy.

How do I maintain dry weight after dialysis?

  • Watch your fluid intake. Your healthcare team can tell you what is right for you.
  • Most hemodialysis patients should not drink more  than 32 ounces per day.  Ask your healthcare team how much fluid is right for you.
  • Follow a kidney-friendly diet. Work with your healthcare team to come up with a meal plan that is right for you.
  • Avoid salty foods. Salt makes your body hold on to extra fluid.  It will also make you thirstier, which makes it harder to control your fluid intake between treatments.
  • Keep track of your daily weight. Keeping track of your weight is important between dialysis sessions. If you see sudden weight gain between sessions, you should tell your healthcare provider immediately.

What happens if I lose or gain weight? 

If your weight changes, your dialysis care team will adjust your dry weight as needed.  

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.