Chris Evert Children's Hospital
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Center

Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Center

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Appetite Stimulation

Symptom and description

Loss of appetite is a loss of the desire to eat. Not eating can lead to weight loss. Weight loss can cause weakness and fatigue, which affect your ability to perform normal activities. Proper nutrition also helps your body prevent and fight infection. Weight loss or lack of appetite may be due to the cancer or sometimes to treatments for the cancer.

Learning needs

You will need to learn the possible causes for loss of appetite and inform your doctor of the signs. You should report the following causes for loss of appetite:

  • Tiredness

  • Pain

  • Taste changes, such as with sugar, salt, caffeine, meat

  • Side effects from medications

Prevention and management

Increasing food intake is important in maintaining your weight. Maintaining your weight will help you perform your daily activities.

To stimulate appetite:

  • Eat small meals 5 to 6 times a day.

  • Limit liquids around meal time to avoid feeling full quickly. Drink liquids at least 30 minutes before meals.

  • Help family members plan meals you would like to eat.

  • Eat in pleasant surroundings in the company of friends and/or family.

  • Try using plastic utensils and cook in a glass pot if foods have a metal taste.

  • Allow others to prepare foods to your liking.

  • Avoid the area where food is being prepared if aromas bother you.

  • Serve cold foods if odors bother you.

  • Plan light exercise before meals.

  • Try new recipes.

  • Avoid cigarette smoke or smoking, which can affect your sense of smell, thus changing your sense of taste.

To avoid a feeling of fullness:

  • Avoid high-fat foods.

  • Drink liquids at least 30 minutes before meals.

  • Chew food slowly.

  • Avoid gas-forming foods, such as cabbage or broccoli and carbonated liquids such as beer or soda.

Safety considerations:

  • Cook all raw protein foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish.

  • Thaw frozen foods in refrigerator or microwave, not at room temperature.

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables.

  • Use only pasteurized dairy products.

  • Wash hands well with soap and water when preparing or serving foods.

  • Use strict cleaning procedures for all utensils and cooking/storage containers.

  • Refrigerate all foods in need of refrigeration after shopping or meal completion.

  • Serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Avoid leaving foods at room temperature.

  • Do not use foods beyond expiration dates.

Other methods of appetite stimulation may include the use of medications approved as appetite stimulants, as recommended by your doctor.

To manage side effects:

  • Report any side effects to your doctor or nurse, for instance, dry mouth, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting, or constipation.

  • Ask if your medication needs changing.

  • Keep a log or diary of changes in mood, appetite, or other feelings you experience.

Management of weight loss or lack of appetite is aimed at increasing food intake. To monitor your success:

  • You may be asked to keep a food diary.

  • Your weight should be recorded regularly.

Follow-up

Notify your nurse and/or doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Unable to drink fluids.

  • Feeling dizzy when standing.

  • Unable to take solid food.

  • Change in diet habits.

Dr. Roskos with Patient

Our Pediatric Hematology and Oncology program is offered as part of our comprehensive care center at Broward Health Medical Center and Chris Evert Children’s Hospital. Our pediatric oncologists treat all children 0-18 who have been diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders like hemophilia. Because childhood cancer differs from adult cancer in the way it emerges and develops, our program is specially designed for children.

A pediatric research team consisting of doctors, social workers, research workers and pediatric hematology/oncology nurses track the development and deliver diagnosis, treatment and prevention plans for each patient according to their individual needs. As a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national organization of 150 pediatric cancer centers that explore new treatments, we provide the latest clinical research trials for our pediatric oncology patients. Treatment protocols include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

We also offer services such as advocacy, education, counseling, support groups and other special programs to enhance the quality of life for our patients and their families. We support the normal emotional growth and child development during treatment and post treatment with a family-centered approach.

Our program includes an outpatient clinic for regular doctor’s visits, blood transfusions and other forms of infusion therapies. The special child-friendly inpatient unit for pediatric oncology patients provides access to important elements in childcare, including child-life therapy and in-house classrooms.

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