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Coping With Symptoms of HIV / AIDS

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Coping With Symptoms of HIV / AIDS


When you feel tired, your body is using most of its energy to fight infection. You need rest, but you also need to eat well so your body has the necessary fuel to do its job. If you do not have the energy to cook, here are some suggestions to make preparing food easier:

AIDS ribbon Call a food delivery service. Most large cities have a Meals on Wheels program. Some AIDS agencies offer home delivery of cooked meals or volunteers who can cook for you. Home health agencies can send a home health aide who can cook for you, if you have insurance that pays for this service.
AIDS ribbon Buy take-out food. Make sure this food is not greasy (high in fat) as it may make you feel nauseous.
AIDS ribbon Ask a friend or family member to cook for you.
AIDS ribbon Make blender drinks with protein powders or liquid nutritional drinks available in your drugstore, supermarket or health food store. Add fruit or fruit juice if you don't have diarrhea.
AIDS ribbon Use microwave ovens.
AIDS ribbon Keep a stool in the kitchen so you can sit down while you cook.
AIDS ribbon Cook extra food when you feel well and freeze it in individual servings. Or have a family member do this for you.
AIDS ribbon Keep a crock pot and a cooler in your room. This way you can have hot or cold foods within reach when you want them. Be careful to keep cold foods very cold as spoiled food will make you sick.
AIDS ribbon Use paper plates and plastic eating utensils. This will help if you are too tired to wash dishes after eating.


Diarrhea can have many causes, including opportunistic infections, medication and emotional stress. You will need to drink plenty of fluids to replace the ones you are losing. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day! Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Also, eating certain foods and avoiding others will help. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and an HIV-knowledgeable nutritionist to design a diet specifically for you. Emphasize white, starchy foods, including bananas, potatoes, whit rice, white bread, macaroni, noodles and spaghetti made with white flour, oatmeal, yogurt, saltine crackers. Both bananas and potatoes will replace lost potassium, necessary for energy and immune system strength. Apple peelings (just the skin) can also help stop certain forms of diarrhea.

AIDS ribbon High fiber foods like leafy, green vegetables, raw fruits and vegetables, brown rice, and other whole grains, beans, nuts, corn, popcorn, or dried fruit may make diarrhea worse.
AIDS ribbon Avoid spicy food like chili, salsa, and gumbo.
AIDS ribbon Avoid greasy (high fat) foods like deep fried chicken, most snack foods, french fries, bacon, hamburgers, sausages, lunch meat, gravy, mayonnaise, and butter, all of which may increase diarrhea and nausea.

If you have gas or cramps, avoid foods like bell peppers, raw garlic, onions, beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beer, and sodas.

You can usually eat clear soups, tuna packed in water, hot and cold cereals, lean meats, tofu, baked or roasted fish and chicken, low fat or nonfat milk, cottage cheese, nonfat yogurt, cooked eggs, canned fruits, cooked vegetables, pasta with tomato sauce, mashed, boiled or baked potatoes (without the skin), sandwiches with mustard, sherbert, clear fruit juices and nectars. Emphasize mangoes, bananas, oranges juice, and fruit to replace lost minerals.

Nausea and Vomiting

Both of these symptoms can be caused by AIDS-related infections or drugs. Taking medication before or after meals may make drugs easier to take. Ask your doctor about changing your medication if you are getting very nauseous, vomiting frequently, and are not eating. Try dry foods such as toast, crackers (saltines), or dry cereals straight from the box. Eat simple foods, especially one-dish meals like soups, puddings, custards, rice, macaroni, noodles, cream of wheat, oatmeal, bananas, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, or mashed potatoes.

AIDS ribbon Stay away from fried, high fat, or spicy foods
AIDS ribbon Drink liquids 30 to 60 minutes after you eat. Try flat carbonated drinks between meals (like ginger ale).
AIDS ribbonDon't lie down for at least two hours after you eat. If you do lay down, keep your upper body higher than your feet.
AIDS ribbon Eat small amounts of food more often during the day.
AIDS ribbon Avoid very sweet foods. Salty foods might be helpful.

Poor Appetite

Sometimes you may feel too tired to eat. You may just not have an appetite. But it is important to try to eat anyway. Your body needs lots of nourishment to fight HIV.

AIDS ribbon Try drinking your meals. Make blender drinks with fruit, fruit juice, ice cream, yogurt, and other milk products that taste delicious. You can include protein powders to add nutrients.
AIDS ribbon Try to eat something every hour or two if you cannot eat a whole meal at once.
AIDS ribbon Eat only your favorite foods.
AIDS ribbon Eat with someone whose company you enjoy.
AIDS ribbon Ask a friend or family member to cook for you.

Mouth and Throat Soreness

A sore mouth or throat might be caused by an infection, medication, or vomiting. Try soft foods and blender drinks. Yogurt, ice cream, creamed soups, cooked cereals, baby food, applesauce, mashed bananas, custards, jello, sherberts, and puddings.

AIDS ribbon Suck on ice cubes and popsicles. You can freeze fruit juice in ice cube trays with toothpicks in them for homemade popsicles.
AIDS ribbon Drink through a straw.
AIDS ribbon Moisten dry food. Add creamed sauces to meat and vegetables. Dip toast and crackers in milk.
AIDS ribbon Cut food into small pieces.
AIDS ribbon Avoid salty, spicy, rough, or crunchy foods. Eat well-cooked vegetables, canned fruit, or soft casseroles like macaroni and cheese.
AIDS ribbon Avoid citrus fruits, pineapples, and tomatoes.
AIDS ribbon Avoid very hot foods and drinks.

Take good care of yourself. There are many responses to these side effects. If your symptoms don't respond to these suggestions, your doctor can prescribe medication to help stop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, and other problems.

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