Phosphate is a mineral that affects the health of bones. When someone has kidney failure they tend to have high phosphate levels. This puts them at risk of bone problems. Too much phosphate in your body can also make you itchy.
Treatment includes eating a diet low in phosphate (click here for more details on Diet) and taking phosphate binders. Dialysis treatment also helps to remove some phosphate.
There are several types of phosphate binder available. Your doctor and dietician will help to decide which one is best for you to take depending on blood results and how easy you find it to take your tablets.
Reducing the amount of phosphate in your body can only be done in combination with controlling your diet, these tablets will not work alone.
These tablets are best taken about 10 minutes before meals. You should chew the tablets before swallowing, or let them dissolve in your mouth. Alucaps, Renagel and Phosex should be swallowed whole.
Phosphate binders only work if taken with foods containing phosphate.
They should be taken with meals or snacks which include meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk or pulses.
They should not be taken with meals or snacks which do not include protein foods, such as toast, jam or salad sandwiches, biscuits or fruit.
This may mean that you take more binders with a main meal or include one with a snack. You should still aim to take the total number prescribed each day.
Phosphate binders should not be taken at the same time as iron tablets, or some antibiotics, as this makes both ineffective. Take binders before a meal and iron tablets one hour after the meal.
Only take tablets prescribed for you by your doctor. Some medicines such as indigestion remedies contain calcium or Aluminium and should not be taken as well as binders.
Check with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.
The most common side effects with these tablets are constipation or diarrhoea, feeling sick and a chalky taste in your mouth.
If you really do not like the taste, most phosphate binders can be swallowed whole, 15 minutes before meals. Fosrenol should always be taken after meals.
Store the tablets in their original packet in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children. Only remove the tablets from the container when it is time to take them.
This webpage only gives a brief outline of some of the more important points about phosphate binders. If you would like any further information, ask your doctor, pharmacist, dietician or nurse.
More information on Calcium and Phosphate control is available elsewhere on this website. Click here to view.
NKF Controlled Document No. 82, Phosphate Binders, written 15 July 2002. Last reviewed 8 February 2012.
The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.