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Effective Weight Gain Techniques
May 14, 2004

My cousin has recently been diagnosed (jan-04) after fighting PCP. During the PCP induced coma he lost almost 60lbs. The problem we're having now is that he only weighs 134 lbs and is not gaining weight and has actually lost 9lbs since he came out of the coma. He eats 3-4x a day, is only using the bathroom 1x every 2-3days(?), and is not stable enough to exercise on his own. How long would you estimate it to take him to gain back at least half of his normal weight? What type of diet should he be on? Right now, it's good old home cooking and not working!

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

If your cousin's original weight was about 195 pounds and it was a good weight for him, then that will be the goal (along with good physical functioning, of course!). A weight loss that extensive is likely to have caused a number of changes that should be addressed so that he can gain weight and can gain weight relatively "normally."

Fluids, calories, and protein will be the primary concern and you can probably get a visit by a dietitian to assess where he is now and what the options are for supporting this part of the equation. He is not likely to gain weight on any treatment unless those nutrients are consumed. If he simply cannot consume enough, an option is temporary tube feeding to get him back on track.

Beyond those options, it would be worthwhile having the doctor check a testosterone level. It is likely that with such significant weight loss his hormones are a bit out of whack and this may be a reasonable place to start in getting him back on track. Testosterone is important to the maintenance of protein tissues in the body and the risks vs. benefits should be weighed to look at replacement and maybe even anabolic levels of therapy for recovery of weight and body composition.

During this process, have your dietitian monitor nutrient intake and body composition to assure that the results are the ones you are looking for and that other issues not mentioned here are addressed. Your dietitian can also act as an advocate to get the needed therapies initiated.

Best wishes!


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