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Lipodystrophy and WastingLipodystrophy and Wasting
           
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When Will Body Shut Down
May 31, 2002

My niece was recently diagnosed with AIDs. She's had the virus over 10 years without knowing it. The day after Christmas she suffered a collapsed lung, has had 2 lung surgeries since then, (for pneumonia and Aspergillus) and continues to battle opportunistic infections. She has gone from 95 lbs. down to 78 lbs. She is on many medications to make her eat, anti-depressants, etc. I thinks she's taking 17 pills a day. My question is this: With being 5'3" tall, and only weighing 80 lbs., how long can she go on at this weight? If she continues to lose, and doesn't gain, at what point will her body just shut down?

Thank you for your help.

Sleepless in Orangevale

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

Dear Sleepless, Even at 95 pounds, she was pretty light weight. So, in this case, I would say that more aggressive measures might be needed. Talk with her doctor about the possibility of nutrition support... this may mean tube feeding or feeding directly into the veins, depending on how well the gut functions.

The body tends to "shut down" when it reaches around 60-66% of normal weight or, more specifically, when the body cell mass (muscle and organ tissues) reach a low of around 55% of ideal. So, at this point, the problem should be urgently addressed with all the precautions that are normally put into place for such feeding styles.


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