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

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.

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