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What causes weakness even proper diabetic medications and regular diet?

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Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 9400 Questions
adult male, 76 yrs. old, great physical shape. Takes blood pressure and diabetes meds. had emergency surgery for colon blockage...cancer..found 7 of 12 nodes in liver have cancer. 10 days in hospital, 3 days in nursing home, is now at home. Does his exercises, takes his meds, on a regular diet, but getting weaker. did not receive transfusion in surgery, just put on a high protein diet till chemo can start.
Obviously, he is deteriorating. Can he take any over-the-counter vitamins to try to get his strength up? He is eating like a champ..a wonderful diet, yet not getting nearly enough nutrients. is there anything you could suggest? We are in the gray area where one guy only does this and one guy only does that, and in the meantime the patient dies of malnutrition.
Posted Mon, 25 Aug 2014 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 25 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Need to understand type of surgery better

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome.

Thank you for writing to us.

I have gone through your query with diligence and would like you to know that I am here to help. I am assuming I am speaking to the patient's daughter?

Based on the provided information, you do understand that in such a situation malnutrition is important, but at the same time one suggestion may suit one individual and prove to be intolerant in another.

Nutrition is of course important, and the liver and the colon play a pivotal role in absorption and delivery of those nutrients. I am unaware about the current condition of the colon, and whether it was operated on or not? If at all it was. then depending on which part was operated on, a certain nutrient could be deficient in his body. Let me give you an example, a part of the colon is responsible for absorption of vitamin B12 and iron, and if this part is dissected or affected, then the individual does not receive any of these nutrients no matter how much is consumed.

So I would appreciate a little more information on the surgery performed if you could sir/ma'am. As for nutrients, especially for a cancer patient is pivotal and mandatory.

It is good to know that his appetite is intact, and hopefully it remains the same. But it is important to understand whether or not his body is absorbing all that is being consumed, otherwise (as explained above) a person can be deficient in nutrients despite having a good appetite and healthy lifestyle.

I hope you understand the details and I have explained things in a manner best understood by you. Please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications, I would be more than happy to help you and sir (the patient) further.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes weakness even proper diabetic medications and regular diet? 4 hours later
I do understand your reply and appreciate the information. He is my ex-husband, by the way. He had about 18 inches of his intestines removed. Nutrition is so critical, yet nobody has suggested supplements such as vitamins. The surgeon says ask the family doctor who refers you to the chemo doctor and nothing gets done. Meanwhile, he withers away.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 8 hours later
Brief Answer:
Parenteral nutrition a must

Detailed Answer:
Hello once again ma'am.

Thank you for that information.

Yes, nutrition is vital especially as his intestines were removed.

In my previous response I explained to you that different parts of the intestine are involved with different functions. They absorb nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, etc. If these parts of the intestine are removed, then depending on which part is removed, the individual becomes deficient in that nutrient(s).

In such a scenario, vitamin supplements are mandatory. As explained in above, even if we give him these nutrients orally, and feed him a nutrient-rich diet, it is of no use because the part of the intestines that used to absorb these nutrients and deliver it to the blood stream is now missing. So the only route left is intravenous (deliver it to his blood stream directly).

You have to speak with his doctor and make sure he gets a regular dose of parenteral (intravenous) nutrition, otherwise he will gradually wither away ma'am.

I hope I have explained things in a more clear manner this time. Please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications, I am always here to help.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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