Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can I bring food into the room during a sick child visit?"
My son loves doughnuts and he is very ill. His kidneys are failing. Can I bring him doughnuts to make him happy. Will that make things worse?
This is a tricky question in that the answer depends on details of your son's condition that I don't have, as well as the policies and orders in place at his hospital. In general, people in renal failure do require a special diet. Guidelines for renal failure diets are generally low in fluids, low in protein, low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and some other electrolytes, but are still as replete with calories as possible to avoid weight loss and malnutrition. Fortunately, some of the worst things about doughnuts may actually work to your advantage in this specific situation. Doughnuts are not a nutritionally sound food, which is usually a bad thing, and they are most properly reserved as a special treat. They are high in fat and sugar, and low in protein and nutrients. In this situation, the fact that they are low in protein and nutrients, but high in calories, may make them an acceptable one-time treat for your son in his current condition (although the very high sugar content may be undesirable). However, you always need to clear any special food that you would like to bring him with his medical team. The best place to start is his nurse. He or she will know what type of diet is ordered and will be able to talk to the doctor or nutritionist and find out if a special treat like a doughnut would be ok. This may be the case, but it needs to be a decision made by your son's healthcare team, since they know all the details of his condition. Nonetheless, from my experience working in a children's hospital, I know that, if at all possible, your son's medical team will make every effort to accommodate a special treat that would cheer him up, as this is an important part of providing well rounded care to a sick child.
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