Mesothelioma Patients Face Nutritional Challenges
Good nutrition is essential to supporting a mesothelioma patient while they are undergoing treatment, but it is also extremely challenging. The various treatment protocols that the patient is likely to be undergoing, whether surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, can make it difficult to eat or drink as well as to retain the food that is taken in. After patients undergo these procedures, whether they are palliative or curative, they need to take in as many calories and as much protein as possible to assist in the healing process. Unfortunately, they may be experiencing tremendous pain and discomfort, may be exhausted or sedated, and are frequently experiencing nausea.
There are several strategies that caregivers can use when trying to encourage mesothelioma patients to eat. Here are some that have proven most successful:
- Rather than attempting to eat three larger meals per day, encourage patients to eat small, protein-packed snacks that may be more palatable and easier for them to approach.
- Dry foods are usually easier for chemotherapy patients and patients recovering from surgery. Try enriched toast, crackers, cereal and breadsticks. If you want to try to get some additional protein in, try smearing a little peanut butter or almond butter on, or a slice of cheese.
- Stay away from foods that have strong odors or tastes, and avoid anything with spice
- Avoid any food that has grease
- Do not let the mesothelioma patient lay flat for at least one hour after eating. If they must rest, prop them up and keep their head elevated.
- Dehydration is a frequent concern. Offer water regularly, as well as broth, sports drinks, juice, gelatin and popsicles.
- Keep the room cool and odor free.
- Sucking on hard candies can help patients who are experiencing sore throat, bad tastes in their mouths or nausea, and can even help with hydration.
- Stick to foods that are easy to digest. Many mesothelioma patients prefer bland foods such as Cream of Wheat, chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, and pudding. Boiled chicken is a good source of protein that is usually well tolerated.
- If the patient is struggling with nausea, offer high protein foods such as hard-boiled or poached eggs, cream soups made with low fat milk, and non-fat yogurt. Fruits and vegetables that are well tolerated include potatoes that have been mashed, boiled or baked (not fried), and boiled vegetables. Stay away from anything that has been breaded or fried.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, and heavy creams
- If the mesothelioma patient is craving something sweet, let them have it – they need the calories. Good options include light cakes such as sponge cake or angel food cake, pudding and popsicles. Butter and margarine are allowed, but only in small amounts.
The challenge of caring for those with mesothelioma is made more difficult by the knowledge that their illness was entirely preventable, and was caused by negligence on the part of the asbestos companies. If you would like information on your legal rights, contact the mesothelioma law firm of Danziger & De Llano today.
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