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AIDS Wasting Syndrome


more about AIDS Wasting Syndrome


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define AIDS wasting as involuntary loss of more than 10% of body weight, and more than 30 days of Diarrhea, or weakness and fever.  The AIDS wasting syndrome leads to loss of body fat and, more importantly, to the loss of lean body cell mass, which is mostly muscle.  Such a wasting syndrome is an ominous sign of disease progression and impending death.

  • In fighting the acquired immune deficiency virus, the body also spends extra energy in manufacturing Proteins such as cytokines to fight the virus, thereby accelerating use of much needed nutrients and calories.
  • Consequently, patients with AIDS will need more calories to maintain normal body weight and nutritional balance.  Other factors that add to the wasting syndrome (i.e., poor appetite and inadequate food intake) may be due to the effects of the infection itself, or may be associated with symptoms of the disease (mouth lesions, pain upon swallowing etc.), or a result of the potent HIV medications.
  • In addition, numerous infections that accompany AIDS (parasites, etc.) and the side effects of AIDS therapy can adversely affect the intestine (e.g., Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting) where important nutrients are normally absorbed, thus contributing to the wasting syndrome.
  • Factors such as fatigue and social isolation only make it more difficult for some one with AIDS to shop and adequately take care of his or her nutritional needs.

  • Examination:
  • May be normal
  • Signs & symptoms of AIDS-defining illnesses (see below)
  • Laboratory Findings:
    1. HIV antibody test -- the HIV virus multiplies in the body for weeks or months before the body responds by making antibodies to it, at which time the HIV test is considered positive.  Decreased CD4 lymphocyte (also known as T-helper cells) count (the lower the count the more likely to develop infections and illness)
    2. Symptoms begin to occur with CD4 count falling below 350/ml
    3. Anemias
    4. Polyclonal hypergammaglobulenimia
    5. High cholesterol
    6. Skin antigen testing fails to react to typical antigens

  • Nutritional consultation is recommended.
  • Treat all opportunistic infections (see AIDS)
  • Megace and Marinol (synthetic marijuana) are appetite stimulants helpful in some cases.
  • Supplements such as Ensure and Advera and protein shakes made according to the suggestions of a dietician can be helpful too.
  • Hormones such as growth hormone and anabolic steroids may help in some.
  • Vitamin and minerals assessment and supplementation must be considered.
  • Nasogastric tube feeing, gastric tube feeding, and other ways of providing extra nutrients and calories may be considered.
  • See additional treatment of HIV under AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.





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