Daily Weights Explained
Once diagnosed, your doctor may suggest or flat out tell you to take daily weights. A lot of questions can go unanswered, especially if you think of them after you leave. It is not always easy to get a hold of your doctor to ask these questions. Some of us fear “bothering” the doctor over something that seems trivial. Daily weights are anything but trivial. For some, they are essential in recognizing problems before they cause hospitalization.
Why take daily weights
Daily weights are taken to recognize when fluid overload is potentially or already happening. One of the more common symptoms of heart failure is fluid overload, usually causing edema or swelling, most commonly in the legs. Smaller amounts of excess fluid cannot always be detected by visual examination. Also, without taking a weight, you don’t have an accurate measurement of the amount of extra fluid you are carrying.
How to take a daily weight
How you take an accurate daily weight can be overlooked, especially if you are unfamiliar with the reason behind it. When you take a daily weight, you want it to be a “dry” weight. This means you must take your daily weight at the same time every day, usually after waking up, after using the restroom, and before consuming any food or beverage. You also want to take it wearing the same clothes, which is easiest to accomplish by taking your weight with no clothes on at all. Doing all this will give you the most accurate daily weight to assess how much excess fluid you are carrying.
Interpreting my daily weight
Now that you have taken your daily weight, what do the numbers mean? To make it a little easier to figure out, you must know the weight of water. One liter of water weighs one kilogram (about 2.2 pounds), and one gallon of water weighs approximately 8.3 pounds. So, every two pounds you gain is approximately an extra liter of water in your body. Every 4 pounds is about a half-gallon of water and so on.
Once you see the numbers, you can understand the importance of knowing how much extra water you are holding onto. A simple four-pound weight gain compared to the previous day means you have about an extra half-gallon of water you need to lose, and gaining for a few days in a row can quickly add up to a disaster.
What do I do now?
So, you gained a few pounds. What do you do now? This will be up to your doctor. You could be told to do anything from restricting fluids and monitor to going to the emergency room. The corrective action decided by your doctor will be based on your medical history and the severity of the weight gain.
If you can’t get a hold of your doctor for any reason, it is always best to err on the side of caution and visit the emergency room. Do not take advice from family, friends, or online acquaintances. None of these people know you like your doctor does and can give you advice that can be life-threatening. Remember, this is your life and fluid overload can be serious. Don’t risk any further complications by not properly taking care of yourself and your symptoms. No amount of time or money saved is worth risking your life.
What type of heart failure have you been diagnosed with?