Friday, February 13, 2009

Dialyzors, beware 'healthy' alternatives

A few days back, my mother went to a supermarket and bought 'healthy' salt - a low sodium salt. With all the noise about switching to a low sodium diet and the benefits this diet offers, she picked it up and brought it home.

I noticed the packet lying in our kitchen. I made a mental note to tell my mother not to use this salt because low sodium salt is basically Potassium Chloride. Too much sodium is bad for all of us. Too much potassium can be lethal for people on dialysis. She wasn't at home that day and I forgot all about it.

She innocently started using this salt in the daily cooking that happened in my house.

Within a couple of days of this, I started feeling a little, well, 'different'. I was not my usual self. By evening I had a congestion in my chest and felt uneasy. Too much fluid, I concluded. I got on to dialysis a little early. Put on extra ultrafiltration. Within an our of dialysis I felt the congestion in my chest ease. But it was not the usual feeling of fluid being removed. I was distinctly reminded of the first hour of my treatments at the hospital a few years back.

The next morning, I remembered the low sodium salt. Oh my god, I thought. That was it! That was the reason for these strange symptoms. I immediately asked my mother if she was using the low sodium salt she had bought a few days back. She confirmed this.

I then explained to her what the low sodium salt had. She felt guilty. But it wasn't her fault for sure!

This little incident shows how careful dialyzors need to be with what they eat and drink. Things that are touted as 'healthy' for the general population could very well be lethal for folks with kidney disease. Fruits, too, for example. Urinators (people with healthy kidneys!) are advised to have plenty of fruits. A strict no-no for people on dialysis.

The best example of this difference is the consumption of water. I keep hearing people on television and articles in magazines and newspapers exhorting people to drink atleast 8 glasses of water everyday! Allow me and I will drink 80!

Even the so-called experts are so ignorant about renal failure and its associated restrictions that it can be very dangerous for dialyzors to go by what they say. We need to be extra careful with what we eat or drink. Read the labels. And read them again. Before you try something new.

3 comments:

Kartik said...

That can be dangerous! You were smart enough to identify the problem quickly, but there could be a lot of people out there who might be completely helpless in such situations! Don't you think it should be made mandatory for the manufacturers to mention such warnings on the packaging? At least a simple message like 'Ask your doctor if you . . .'

May be we should bring it to the notice of consumer forum? Ok, done, let's see how good this is - complaint number is 14106. I filed it as a general complaint.

Kamal Shah said...

That was very fast Kartik! But maybe I should have checked the packet carefully to see if they had any warning. I did not look carefully enough.

Anyway, let's see what they get back with!

Thanks!

Madras Hash said...

It is difficult to buy non-iodised salt in the market these days, since it is "good for you". However not for EVERYONE. Read further.

Taken from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=69

In certain circumstances, excessive consumption of iodine can actually inhibit the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thereby leading to the development of goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism. Excessive iodine intake may also cause hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer, and/or iodermia (a serious skin reaction).

In an attempt to prevent these symptoms of iodine toxicity, the Institute of Medicine established the following Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (TUL) for iodine:

1-3 years: 900 mcg
4-8 years: 300 mcg
9-13 years: 600 mcg
14-18 years: 900 mcg
19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
Pregnant women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
Pregnant women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
Lactating women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
Lactating women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg

It is important to note that if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease (for example, Grave's disease or Hashimoto's disease) or if you have experienced an iodine deficiency at some point in your life, you may be more susceptible to the dangers of excessive iodine consumption, and may, therefore, need to monitor your intake of iodine more carefully.