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Symptoms and Solutions

Reduced bone mass and osteoporosis

Bone cells are busy throughout our lives manufacturing new bone, and this process, although most evident in childhood and our teenage years, continues to be vitally important throughout the rest of our lives.
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Sometimes, it's as if our stomach 'blows up' uncomfortably after eating, or seems permanently distended. If this happens to you, the first thing to do is to keep a food diary for a week, recording what you eat, how much and how it makes you feel. It might help you identify specific foods that aggravate your IBS.
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Weight loss

Doctors worry about losing too much weight when we are ill. These shifts are not always down to the disease itself – sometimes medication and the anxiety around your illness can cause you to lose some of your appetite. The problem is that losing weight while we are undergoing treatment can alter our blood work and disrupt our body’s reaction to the drugs and therapies.
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Weight gain

Putting on too much weight can be an issue when we are ill. It’s a problem not just for health reasons but because it can make us feel so out of control of our body and negative about how we look and feel. Cancer treatment can be a problem, particularly with hormone-related tumours such as prostate or breast cancer. With dementia, a new drug may interfere with hunger messages in the brain, so that the person doesn’t register feeling full and so stop eating.
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Chewing and swallowing difficulties

Physical skills like keeping our mouths closed while food is inside, to help us chew and swallow, can become difficult when we are poorly. If you are caring for someone, look out for signs of swallowing issues, such as coughing or grimacing when eating, spitting out, or keeping it in the mouth for longer than usual. A few simple tweaks can really help.
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Sore mouth

A sore mouth, caused by illness, nutritional deficiency or side-effect of drug treatment (it classically occurs with many types of chemotherapy), or something as basic as poorly fitting dentures, can affect the types of food you feel like eating.
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When you’re feeling sick, either because of your illness or as a side-effect of a treatment such as chemotherapy, food may be the last thing you want to think about. The body can be cruel, too, as it can so easily slip into a cycle of the less you eat, the less you want.

Nausea too can be much worse when you don’t eat or drink anything, so just trying one mouthful can get you over the hurdle and encourage your appetite and motivation to eat. 

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We can develop diarrhoea to differing degrees and for many different reasons. It may be a side effect of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy; a result of medication such as antibiotics and painkillers; and emotional issues like anxiety and fear.
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A sluggish gut can be caused by a number of factors, including a lack of fluid and fibre in the diet, age, being less active (exercise can have quite a big impact on how regular our gut is), hormone changes (such as those during the menopause) and certain medication.
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Taste changes

A change in how you experience the flavours of foods can happen when you’re ill, particularly if you have cancer. Chemotherapy treatment may result in a strange taste in the mouth, which makes it seem metallic, bitter or salty.
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Loss of appetite

Our appetite and desire to eat anything is influenced by so many factors, from physical issues such as pain, sickness and constipation to anxiety, fear and feeling low.

Take a holistic look at the person you care for and their environment as it’s often not just a physical issue at play; emotional elements play a significant part in tackling a poor appetite.

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