Positive Living: Looking After Yourself (cont.)
Unfortunately, the mouth is a breeding
ground for all sorts of opportunistic diseases. And since that's
where your food goes first, the infections can be a real annoyance and
can keep you from getting the nutrition you need. Fortunately, thrush
and other mouth infections can be treated with medicine and sometimes by
a change in diet. Here are a few suggestions to help with eating
if you have a mouth infection:
- Don't eat food with a lot of acid in it. Stay
away from lemons, limes, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, etc. Apple
juice, milk, soy or rice milk, and supplements will reduce a lot of the sting
that you might get from more acidic foods.
- Try to avoid carbonated drinks (soda pop, sparkling
water), hot coffee or tea, and alcohol because they can cause
severe mouth pain.
- To relieve dry mouth caused by medication try gum,
hard candy, or breath spray. Avoid candy and chewing gum
containing Sorbital - it may cause diarrhea.
- Eat softer foods like stews, casseroles, ice cream,
bananas, etc. If a food is too hard, make it softer. Try
dipping your bagel in coffee or your cookies in milk. Add
butter and cream sauces to pasta dishes; this makes them easier to
chew and swallow.
- Ice cream, popsicles or ice cubes
can numb your mouth for a while andn provide some relief.
Weight loss is common and can be a serious problem in HIV
disease. Sometimes what seems like a few pounds lost can quickly turn into
twenty or thirty pounds. It is very difficult to regain this weight. If
you experience a loss of 10-15 pounds without intending to do so, consult your
doctor or a nutritionist.
You might want to consider nutritional
supplements such as Ensure. You need as many calories as possible
and these drinks are easy to carry around with you. If you
haven't already, check with your health care provider to figure out
which supplement is best for you. Additionally, health care
providers can prescribe an appetite stimulant if they feel it is needed.
Cooking and Eating Defensively
People with HIV get sick more
often from food-borne illnesses than other people. Everyone can get food
poisoning, but people with weakened immune systems can get a lot sicker.
Once someone with HIV gets sick from a food-borne illness, it can be
very hard to treat and can come back again and again.
Know how to protect yourself from
food-borne illness. Diseases such as salmonella, botulism or
hepatitis-A can cause serious infections or even death. Most of
these diseases are caught directly from an infected person, but you can
also be infected by raw or poorly cooked food, improperly canned food,
food contaminated by insects, and food that has been handled by someone
who has not followed proper food handling practices.