Jun 8, 2009
I have a couple of questions to ask. I just found out in march that i was HIV positive. been to my doctor twice, and do not need medications as of now. I have another appointment coming up in july. I have been have constant diharea.. like 5 to 7 times a day i need to go.... It seems any dairy I eat, makes me sick to my stomach. Is there anything that I can do? or maybe you would recommend? Also, i work in the food industry as a server. I work from like 5pm to 2 or 3 in the morning... I was just wondering if this was an okay life style to have with my condition. I get plenty of sleep at night.. but i just always feel tired. Also do you have any information on nutrition? I have done a lot of research but everything is so confusing... I am sorry I just turned 22 and I am super scared that this will kill me. I just need help.. Thank you.
Response from Dr. McGowan
Things can definitely be confusing when you are just learning about HIV. Your diarrhea can be caused by many things, including HIV itself. Since your CD4 count must be OK (your doctor has not recommended treatment), there are a few things I would look into. There are some parasites, such as giardia and ameoba that can cause diarrhea and bloating, you should ask your doctor to test for these, if you haven't already. Problems with hormone levels (such as an over active thyroid can cause it). Since it is associated with dairy, it could be related to "lactose intolerance" and a change in diet or use of lactaid before eating dairy products may help. If all else is negative, it may be due to HIV itself which can effect the lining of the intestines. Some people find taking Calcium tablets (like TUMS) can help. Sometimes eating foods with low residues (like rice and breads helps). Some people need anti-motility drugs like imodium before they go out. A good resource on diarrhea is available at http://img.thebody.com/thebody/2007/gut.pdf#page=6. There is a study of a new anti-diarrhea treatment (crofelemer) for people with HIV: http://www.adventstudy.com/ You can work in the food industry if you do not have an infectious cause of your diarrhea (this should be worked up with your doctor) and you wash your hands before handling anything that is shared with others.
The BOdy also has a great review with links on nutrition that has just been updated: http://www.thebody.com/content/living/art6083.html. The key is to have a balanced diet that includes green vegetables.
Glad you are focused on your health. Things will settle down and get easier with time. Write back if you need any help.
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