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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dealing with Diarrhea. Cures for this Annoying HIV Symptom

Dealing with Diarrhea
Cures for this Annoying HIV Symptom

Diarrhea can be a life threatening problem if not treated correctly and rapidly. In addition it is one of the most annoying HIV symptoms. Diarrhea purges the body of needed fluid and electrolytes, resulting in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The causes of diarrhea include:

* HIV and AIDS
* side effect of certain HIV medications
* opportunistic infections

Got diarrhea and don't know what to do? Here are some tips on how to cope with diarrhea.

* Eating foods high in soluble fiber can slow diarrhea by absorbing the water not being absorbed by the body. Examples of soluble fiber include:
o white bread
o oatmeal
o white rice (drinking the water the rice is cooked in also helps)
o bananas
o applesauce

* Avoid foods that have insoluble fiber such as:
o raw fruits and vegetables
o fruit and vegetable skin
o whole grain bread
o muffins
o pasta
o brown rice

* Avoid greasy or spicy foods such as:
o fried foods
o fast food
o bacon or sausage
o gravy
o salad dressings
o peanut butter
o most desserts

* Replenish fluids you have lost with:
o broth
o Gatorade, Pedialyte or other non-carbonated electrolyte replacement drinks
o juice
o Jell-O or popsicles
o water

* Increase the intake of foods high in salt and potassium such as:
o dried fruits
o soup or broth
o crackers
o mashed potatoes
o pretzels

Important Warning #1! - Before increasing salt and potassium intake, consult your doctor to make sure you are not on a salt restricted or potassium restricted diet.

* Increase your calories
* Eat small but frequent meals and healthy snacks
* Decrease your intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or soda (pop)
* Consult your nutritionist for more ideas on what to eat and what to avoid.

Important Nutrition Resources

Imodium For Diarrhea - How Safe Is It?

Important Warning #2! - Diarrhea can signal that there is something wrong such as an infection. Notify your doctor when you get diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours.

Important Warning #3! - Remember, diarrhea can cause dehydration if left untreated. The symptoms of dehydration include:

* headache
* dizziness or lightheadedness
* fever
* dry lips, tongue or mouth
* dark, concentrated urine that may have a strong odor
* decrease in the frequency of urination

When To Go to The Emergency Department

If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.

HIV and Weight Loss

HIV & Weight Loss
Solutions to Combat HIV Weight Loss

Weight loss is a common problem in HIV and AIDS. Unless you are actively trying to lose weight by exercising and dieting, weight loss is a serious problem. Here are some quick tips on how to handle weight loss.

= Know your body! Weigh yourself once per week. If you notice a weight loss, contact your physician.

= Consult your doctor or nutritionist regarding high protein supplements such as Ensure or Boost.

= Eat foods high in protein and calories. Examples include milk shakes, peanut butter, fish and cheeses.
Important Note! - Be careful to limit your fat intake, especially if you have high cholesterol or diarrhea.

HIV Night Sweats

HIV Night Sweats
One of the Most Annoying HIV Symptoms

We all perspire. In fact the average person losses about 1 quart of fluid a day by sweating. But for those living with HIV, night sweats can be a very annoying problem. What are night sweats? Why do they occur and what can be done about them?

What Are Night Sweats?
Night sweats occur frequently in people living with HIV. Simply put, night sweats are profuse sweating that is not related to exercise. As the name implies night sweats occur primarily while you sleep but can occur during the day as well.

What Are the Symptoms of Night Sweats?
For fear of stating the obvious, sweating is the primary symptom of night sweats. Night sweats differ from other sweating in that they:

* occur without exercise
* they occur primarily while sleeping
* they can be very profuse; soaking bedclothes, sheets and blankets

What Causes Night Sweats?
There are many causes of night sweats including:

* HIV infection - Night sweats can be just another symptom of HIV infection or they can be a sign of another infection such as the bacterial infection Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and the fungal infection histoplasmosis.
* Tuberculosis (TB)
* Endocrine disorders such as diabetes and menopause.
* Pregnancy
* Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
* Certain medications such as those used to control fever
* alcohol consumption

How Are Night Sweats Treated?
While there is no way to eliminate night sweats entirely, certain interventions can make the condition less annoying. They include:

* Try to find the cause. Do you have an underlying infection or treatable condition that is causing the night sweats?
* Do you sleep well at night? If not you may have a sleep disorder that is contributing to the night sweats.
* What medicines are you taking? Could they be causing the night sweats?
* Reduce your alcohol consumption and avoid spicy foods before bedtime.
* Stay cool by keeping your bedroom cool or taking a cool shower or bath before bedtime.

What Should I Do About My Night Sweats
The worst thing about night sweats is they are so uncomfortable. Sleep becomes difficult when your bedclothes are soaked with sweat. If you wake in the middle of the night with "sweats" here's what you should do to get back to sleep.

* Take a cool bath or shower and change into dry bedclothes.
* Change your bedding. Make sure to use a water proof pad under the dry bedding to protect your mattress from being saturated from the sweats.
* If the weather permits, open a bedroom window or use a fan to circulate air. Be careful to avoid a chill.

If you suffer from night sweats or you find that your night sweats are more severe or more frequent than they used to be, contact your doctor so he or she can investigate the cause.

Lymphadenopathy. Swollen Lymph Nodes and HIV

Swollen Lymph Nodes and HIV

One of the more common symptoms associated with HIV is lymphadenopathy, a swelling of the lymph nodes of the arm pits (axilla), groins, neck, chest, and abdomen. While most times this swelling is often just a result of HIV, there are serious conditions that are associated with enlarged lymph nodes. Let’s get the facts about lymphadenopathy.

What are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are small, bean-sized organs of the immune system, distributed widely throughout the body. Lymph fluid, the fluid that collects foreign substances throughout the body, is filtered through the lymph nodes where the immune system can rid those foreign substances from the body.

What Causes Lymphadenopathy?
As lymphatic fluid passes through the lymph nodes, immune system cells and fluid remain, causing the lymph nodes to swell, often times to many times their size. There are several reasons that cause this swelling.

A Local Infection
Often times, the site of lymph node swelling can pinpoint the location of the infection that is causing it. For instance, a throat infection may cause lymph node swelling in the neck. Other infections, such as viral illnesses can cause generalized swelling of lymph nodes all over the body, such as the case in HIV infections.

A Lymph Node Infection
Sometimes the lymph nodes can themselves become inflamed and infected. This type of infection is called lymphadenitis and can cause a painful swelling of the lymph nodes.

Cancer can invade the lymphatic system and immune system and cause a condition known as lymphoma which can cause a non-tender swelling of the lymph nodes. There are two types of lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s.

What are the Symptoms of Lymphadenopathy?
Obviously swollen lymph nodes is one symptoms of lymphadenopathy. There are other symptoms as well.

swollen, enlarged lumps in the neck, back of the head, or other locations of lymph nodes
tenderness of the nodes, although the nodes may not be painful at all
warmth or redness of the skin over the lymph nodes
history of infection or illness

Symptoms of an HIV Infection

Is There a Treatment for Lymphadenopathy?
Once swollen lymph nodes are identified, is there a treatment for the condition? First, the cause of the swelling has to be identified. Is there a viral illness? Is there an infection of the lymph nodes themselves? Does the patient have lymphoma? Once the cause is determined, treatment of the cause will usually result in a resolution of the lymphadenopathy. These can include:

antibiotics to treat any bacterial infections
antivirals to treat any viral illness present such as HIV
a lymph node biopsy made be needed to identify cancer. If cancer is diagnosed, chemotherapy will be used to treat the cancer and reduce the lymph node swelling.
depending on the cause, sometimes the lymphadenopathy is monitored without treatment and eventually resolves on it’s own.

If you have found what you think may be swollen lymph nodes under your arms or groins or in your chest, abdomen, or neck, notify your doctor immediately so the cause can be determined and treated.

Source: Adapted from patient education material provided by the University of Virginia Health System; 2006.

Recognizing Acute HIV Syndrome

Recognizing Acute HIV Syndrome
When Flu Symptoms May Not Be the Flu

Across the country, a very dangerous scenario takes place each day. In emergency departments and family practice offices people are presenting with such symptoms as fever, head ache, muscle and joint aches, sore throat, rash and diarrhea. In response to these symptoms, physicians diagnose the flu and send the patient on their way. In the majority of cases, their diagnosis proves correct. But unfortunately, a number of those people with these vague, indistinct symptoms have a much more serious illness than the flu. For some, these symptoms signal the acute stages of HIV infection.

What is Acute HIV Syndrome?
Acute HIV syndrome was initially described as a flu or mononucleosis-like illness affecting gay men. Since those early years of HIV, acute HIV syndrome can now be identified in 30-50% of newly HIV infected individuals during seroconversion. During the initial period of infection, HIV replication is very rapid. As the level of HIV in the blood rises, it begins to attack the immune system, catching it off guard so to speak, and weakening it to the point of causing symptoms. Because of its similarity to common illnesses such as influenza or mononucleosis, the diagnosis of acute HIV syndrome is often missed and the patient is sent home unaware that they have a serious illness that can do great harm to themselves and others. Medical professionals have a responsibility to properly identify this syndrome for two very important reasons.

Why is Identifying Acute HIV Important?
* First and foremost, an early diagnosis of HIV provides the first opportunity to appropriately counsel patients in regard to preventing the spread of the disease. Being unaware of an HIV infection increases the possibility of an infected person unknowingly spreading the disease to others by way of unsafe sexual practices or the sharing of needles. In addition, an early diagnosis allows early medical intervention that has been shown to be a positive influence on the course of HIV throughout a person's lifetime.

* Secondly, acute HIV syndrome represents a brief opportunity to control the dissemination of HIV throughout the body. This early spread of the virus greatly affects the course of the disease and sets immune system damage into motion. One school of thought is that early intervention with antiretroviral medications can limit the initial spread of HIV, thus allowing the body's immune system to stay healthier longer and therefore remaining better able to fight the disease.

How is acute HIV syndrome diagnosed?
Simply put, without testing there is no diagnosis. Medical professionals must recognize the symptoms of acute HIV and be aware of the possibility of HIV infection in anyone who presents with vague symptomology and known risks to HIV exposure. For instance, the wife of a known injectable drug user presents to the Emergency Room with a rash, fever, diarrhea and fatigue. Recognizing the patient's potential exposure to HIV by way of unprotected sex with her husband, the medical provider should counsel and test the patient for HIV before a diagnosis of flu or another common illness is made.

What Needs to be Done?
]Some estimates show that a third of all HIV infected persons are unaware of their infection. Its not hard to see what a huge impact this fact can have on HIV transmission and the health of those infected. All one has to do is look to Africa to see the potential effects of being unaware. Steps must be taken to diagnose HIV as quickly as possible. These steps include:

* The medical community has to make a concerted effort to train its members how to recognize acute HIV syndrome and what to do once it is diagnosed.

* Emergency Rooms across the country must turn their back on conventional thinking and allow for rapid HIV testing in their departments.

* Family practice and primary care physicians must build referral resources that provide HIV testing and counseling.

We have the ability to fight HIV, we just need to know it's there.