Cachexia

Cachexia: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:The word "cachexia" is derived from the Greek "kakos" meaning "bad" and "hexis" meaning "condition." It occurs in a number of disease states, including cancer, AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), major trauma, surgery, malabsorption, and severe sepsis.CachexiaTypes may include: Cachexia aphthosa,  aquosa, hypophyseopriva,  strumipriva,  thyroidea,  thyropriva, diabetic neuropathic cachexia, hypophyseal cachexia, hypophyseal cachexia, malarial, and pituitary cachexia.Cachexia is a debilitating disease usually associated with cancer, certain infectious diseases, and other autoimmune disorders. The disease is also related to addiction to drugs such as: amphetamines or cocaine.Risk Factors:Cancer (particularly of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, colon, and rectum).
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF).
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Crohn's disease
The exact process by which cachexia operates is still poorly understood, although it is possible that inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?), interleukin 1 (IL-1), interferon gamma (IFN-?), interleukin 6 (IL-6), leukemia-inhibitory factor (LIF), and proteolysis inducing factor might be involved.Symptoms:Symptoms may include:Weight loss.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Visible rashes, pallor, or bluishness on their skin.
  • Palpitations.
  • Heart murmur
  • Cough.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Hyperventilation and hypoventilation.
  • Hiccup.
  • Chest pain.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Heartburn.
  • Flatulence.
  • Urinary retention and urinary incontinence.
  • Fecal incontinence.
Neurological symptoms may include: Anxiety, somnolence, retrograde or anterograde amnesia, dizziness or vertigo.Diagnosis:Diagnosis may include patient's clinical history and complete physical examination.Clinical signs of anorexia and weight loss ?5% in 6 months would be expected but clinical judgment is required.Treatment:Treatment of the underlying condition is important. Several treatment options have been outlined to treat the disease. The principle is to improve the nutrition of the patients and to suppress the inflammatory response that is eating up the body's energy.These may include:Feeding the patient with high calorie food.
  • Drugs to stimulate appetite.
  • Drugs to stimulate the body to build up more muscle mass.
The disease may be treated by steroids such as corticosteroids or drugs that mimic progesterone, which increase appetite, may reverse weight loss but have no evidence of reversing muscle loss. It has been proposed that EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, may reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines and thus may improve energy and protein intake, performance status and quality of life in cancer patients with cachexia. This may be taken as fish oil capsules or commercial nutrition supplements. However, the results of studies into the effects of EPA have been inconsistent. Your dietitian can provide more information about the dietary management of cancer cachexia.Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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