Hospice in the Weald

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Hospice in the Weald


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Lack of appetite

You may have a lack of appetite for many reasons. It may be caused by your illness, medicine or treatment, or it may be due to other symptoms such as pain, fatigue, constipation, sore mouth and/or feelings of anxiety, sadness, emptiness or frustration.

If you are not eating, it is important that you speak to your doctor or nurse. Some causes of lack of appetite can be treated and there are medications available that can stimulate appetite. Weight loss often accompanies living with a terminal illness. However, you should not assume that a lack of appetite cannot be treated.

If your appetite is poor, try having smaller, more frequent meals, rather than larger plates of food three times a day.

You can add high-protein powders to your normal food, or you can replace meals with nutritious, high-calorie drinks. These are available from most chemists and can be prescribed by your GP. You can also ask to be referred to a dietician at the hospital. They can advise which foods are best for you and whether any food supplements would be helpful. If you’re not in hospital your GP can arrange this for you.

If you need help with cooking or shopping, a district nurse or social worker can give you information about Meals on Wheels or a home help. You could also see if someone else could prepare your meals, so that you’re not too tired to eat by the time they’re ready.

If you’ve lost weight and are finding it difficult to put it back on, your doctor may prescribe a short course of steroids or a drug called megestrol acetate (Megace®)| to boost your appetite. Your GP or palliative care team| will discuss this with you to decide the most appropriate drug for you.