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Kidney Patient Faces Dietary Restrictions During Dialysis - KOAM TV 7

Kidney Patient Faces Dietary Restrictions During Dialysis

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In most people phosphorus is a good thing, helping turn glucose into energy.

But for a four-state woman on dialysis in Joplin, phosphorus poses a big problem to solve.

Amber Gray gets connected to a dialysis machine. She sits here for three hours at a time, three days a week while a machine cleans her blood now that her kidneys have failed.

But it's not just dialysis making life difficult. Dietary restrictions do too.

Gray says, "Cause you don't get to eat whatever you want. You have to watch it. And if you don't watch it you'll be in the hospital."

Patients like Amber have to limit sodium because of high blood pressure and potassium too. But a bigger challenge is eliminating phosphorus or phosphates which are present in almost every food.

Gray says, "You pretty much cut out cheeses. Cut out all pops.

Fast food is a big no, no."

Amber does a lot of label reading but sometimes phosphates aren't even mentioned. It's all about preservatives and canned goods are often off limits.

Freeman Nephrologist, Dr. Samrat Bhat says, "Processed foods which contain phosphorus as a preservative, which is inorganic, that's the phosphorus which is the most dangerous."

Gray says, "I switched from like eating hamburger helper and stuff like that, to eating all organic and fresh food. It just it was a big change, because it's a lot more expensive."

Amber eats lots of salads but says she has to be careful even with breads and deep fried foods are bad.

Gray says, "I can tell when my phosphorus is high by the way my body reacts. The skin will just start itching and you feel like you itch from the inside out. You can scratch but the itch never goes away."

High phosphorus levels cause dangerous, if not deadly side effects.

Dr. Bhat says, "Phosphorus stimulates a hormone activity and this causes the bones to become weak. The second thing it does when you have this high level of phosphorus, is it binds to the calcium and this can get deposited in the heart in your blood vessels and in your lungs."

So until she can get a kidney transplant her dream meal which Gray says is, "Fried chicken mashed potatoes and gravy," will have to wait.

Amber and other patients can take medications called binders which attach to the phosphorus so it isn't absorbed by the body.

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