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Got osteoarthritis. Started losing weight and feeling weak. How to gain weight and strength?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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I am genetically slim and in the last year suddenly got ostio arthritis (wrists and fingers I take cider XXXXXXX vinegar and now have almost no pain ) I also lost a lot of weight (9st 8lbs to 7st 12lbs I am tall 5ft 9" ) a disaster, I am very weak indeed , though eating well (I`ve been a vegetarian for 47 years with occassional free range salmon) I don`t know what to do to try and gain weight and strength, previously amazingly well, 5,000 m Swimathon at 74 with no puffing or tiredness, thank you XXXXXXX
Posted Wed, 20 Feb 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 3 hours later
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

Unintentional weight loss at any age is worrying at any age. To go from 9st 8 lb (134 pnds) to 7 st 12lbs (110) implies a 24 pnd weight loss.
Normally, especially in older age groups, this would be investigated by blood and imaging tests to rule out any potential severe illnesses. The normal test would include a full blood count - to check for anemia and any abnormality of the white blood cell. An ESR would also be done - it is a non specific indication of any inflammatory marker in the body
Chemistry panel- esp the level of calcium, creatinine which looks at the kidneys, liver function tests
Stool for occult blood- this is a test done to check for any blood in the stool which can be an indicator of growths in the colon
Imaging would normally include at least a barium study of the colon or even better- colonscopy.
Other imaging tests would depend on the blood tests results and the initially results of the tests looking at the colon.

In terms of weight regain, it is ,in part influenced by the cause of the weight loss.
Generally weight would occur if the caloric intake is increased and caloric output (exercise and any physical activity) is reduced.
To increase your caloric intake you would need to (1) increase the frequency and portion sizes of your meals
(2)increase the caloric content of the meals by adding high calorie dressings or a small amount of extra butter (if allowed in your diet ) or sugar
(3) reduce your use of low fat/low calorie items
(4) there are protein supplements such as proteinex, usually available via a dietician, that are added to meals to increase muscle mass and strength.These would also asssit would weight regain
(5) there are also supplements available that are in a milk format that are high calorie for weight gain but I am not sure whether you use milk products

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
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