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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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AIDS Wasting Syndrome

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Treating AIDS Wasting Syndrome

If you have AIDS, it's important to take your HIV medications 100% of the time without missing even one dose. Also, monitor your weight and maintain healthy eating habits -- even when you're not hungry. See your doctor right away if you lose weight, have severe diarrhea, or have an opportunistic infection affecting your gastrointestinal system.

To treat AIDS wasting syndrome, your doctor will use a variety of approaches.

To increase appetite or reduce nausea and vomiting, your doctor may suggest:

  • Megace (megestrol acetate), an appetite stimulant that is a synthetic form of progesterone. Megace may sometimes increase body fat and decrease release of hormones from sex glands (hypogonadism). For these reasons, some doctors don't recommend it.
  • Marinol (dronabinol) is a synthetic form of an active ingredient in marijuana. It is an appetite stimulant that can also reduce nausea, improve mood, and stabilize weight. It may cause drowsiness and dizziness. Insurance companies often do not pay for this medication.
  • Marijuana, which is legalized for medical purposes in only a few states. It can increase appetite, reduce nausea, and lessen pain. It has the same side effects as Marinol. It can also cause breathing problems such as bronchitis.

To lessen diarrhea, your doctor may:

  • Identify and treat opportunistic infections that affect the intestines.
  • Make adjustments in your HAART medications.
  • Suggest nutritional supplements to help make up for poor nutrient absorption. Ensure and Advera are two examples.
  • Suggest limiting fat, lactose, insoluble fiber (such as that found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), caffeine, alcohol, and concentrated sweets.

To improve changes in metabolism, researchers are studying a variety of approaches. These include:

Progressive resistance training (PRT) also can be helpful in increasing lean body mass. This involves gradually increasing weight, repetitions, or sets to improve strength.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on October 04, 2014
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