Appetite Loss: Understanding Appetite Loss and Weight Loss During End of Life Care

It is not uncommon for people suffering from terminal illness to lose their appetites. It is so common that many patients complain of an inability to eat that is more frustrating than pain.
The important thing to note here is the phrasing. We are talking about an “inability” to eat. There is a loss of appetite so severe that eating becomes a disgusting chore, especially for people suffering from late-stage cancers.
This can come as frustrating to the families of patients. Instead of getting upset, here is some information to help you understand what your loved one is experiencing and how you can help them cope.

Anorexia / Cachexia Syndrome (ACS)

This term combines two dietary issues that are very different to create a syndrome that covers much of what people experience with appetite loss and weight loss at the end of their lives. The first is anorexia and the second is cachexia.
This type of anorexia is not the same at the well-known mental illness anorexia nervosa. It is most common in advanced cancers and is defined as “the lack or loss of appetite, resulting in the inability to eat.” It usually ends up causing the loss of muscle and fat weight. If caught early enough by a hospice nurse Las Vegas residents trust, it can be treated.
Cachexia has a much more deep definition. It is the “state of general ill health and malnutrition, marked by weakness and emaciation.” It is most common in late-stage cancers and AIDS patients. It causes the loss of fat, muscle and bone. It also can’t usually be treated with vitamins or more food intake. It is so severe that it actually causes about 20 percent of the people who get the illness to die from it.


It is most common to see this condition in a patient suffering from AIDS or various late-stage cancers. These diseases release chemicals that interfere with the way a person is able to digest nutrients.
It can also be the side effect of the medication a patient is taking. There is even a chance that the ACS is caused by a number of different psychological emotional, or spiritual stressors.
Regardless of the cause, ACS can manifest with any of the following symptoms. If you notice any of these in your loved one, it may be time to seek the help of Las Vegas hospice services that know how to handle these sort of things.

  • Pain
  • A change in taste preferences
  • Loss of taste
  • Increased sensitivity to smells that usually makes the food unappealing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Of course, the list can go on an on. It just depends on the patient and the state of their appetite before the ACS set in. Some people will have symptoms that are worse than others.
At the end of the day, you may just need the help of people experienced with dealing in end of life treatment to help your loved one to eat. ProCare Hospice of Nevada may be the right choice to find the comfort and support your loved one deserves. For more information about the hospice nurse Las Vegas loves, contact 702.380.8300.

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