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41
SIDE EFFECTS AND SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT /// CHAPTER 26
Weight
Loss
Here are a few tips to start with if you
are experiencing this side effect:
» Eat 6 small meals/snacks spaced
throughout the day.
» Drink between meals to avoid
becoming full from liquids during
meals.
» Use high calorie foods and drinks
to make the most of every bite or
sip.
» Drink oral nutrition supplements
that are high in calories and
protein.
» Avoid empty calories like soft
drinks that may take up stomach
space without being nutritious.
» Sometimes you have to treat your
food like you treat your medicine
Loss of
Appetite
During your treatment, you may struggle with loss of
appetite which may lead to weight loss. This may be
most noticeable right after chemotherapy, surgery or
radiation, and improves as your body recovers. Even
though appetite loss and weight loss may be expected, it
is not OK to lose a lot of weight during your treatment.
When you lose a lot of weight, you often lose muscle mass, strength, energy and balance. Losing too much weight can also
make it harder to tolerate your treatments, fight off infections, and recover after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. It can
also leave you without enough energy to do the things you like to do. Even if you are overweight before starting treatment,
losing too much weight during treatment can be harmful. If your appetite is low or you feel full easily, talk to your doctor or
dietitian. They can provide ideas for foods, nutrition supplements, or medicine that can help you stay as healthy as possible
even when you don't feel well.
during treatment - just something
you have to do to get better.
» Get out and about - a bit of
exercise can help to keep up your
appetite.
» Eat with friends or family - making
the meal more enjoyable may help
you eat more.
» Talk with your provider about
an appetite stimulant. There are
some prescription medicines
that are safe to take with your
chemotherapy to increase your
appetite.
If all these things aren't enough, your
physician may suggest a feeding tube.
This is a temporary, thin " naso-gastric "
tube (NGT) that is inserted through
your nostril, down your throat then into
your stomach. The external end of the
tube is connected to a pump that for
part or all of the day drips nutritional
formula through the tube into your
stomach. Or the formula can be given
in " boluses, " like a liquid meal, through
a large syringe attached to the tube.
If you are very sick, and cannot tolerate
eating or even an NGT, there is nutrition
that can be given through your IV
directly into your veins, called total
parenteral nutrition (TPN). This is an
extreme and only short-term way to get
nutrition, with side effects and risk, so
your team will want to try everything
to use the most natural method of
nutrition possible first.
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What Do I Do Now?

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