Friday, January 15, 2010

Refeeding Syndrome

Why Can't You Just Eat?!

Forks scrape the faces of plates; bare tines are pulled through their lips. The sounds and smells of food hang heavy in the air. Dinner disappears from in front of family members; his disperses over the patient plate; spread out and mashed and sliced and diced, but there, still there, again. Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, knowing they know he's not eating, his eyes sink into spaghetti. His parents and siblings 
share sharp worried glances. Fear for his health, happiness, and life, his father finally erupts, "Why can't you just eat?!"

It can be extremely sad and stressful to watch someone you love dying before your eyes. Anorexia Nervosa is frightening to witness. Concern, ignorance, and feelings of helplessness can lead to this kind of outburst. In the past, this was a much more common reaction to people with eating disorders. Thankfully, advancements in research, education, treatment, and technology, in addition to the media's 
fascination with eating disorders (particularly Anorexia Nervosa), have contributed to a more widespread understanding that recovery generally requires medical and psychological treatment. However, with males, sadly there may still be more of a tendency to overlook an eating disorder and to direct frustration toward the individual himself. Further awareness, will hopefully bring earlier, more 
compassionate intervention to this population.

Although many people now know that there are complex psychological reasons why eating disorders cannot be so simply addressed, it is also important to remember that for severely malnourished individuals, most often associated with Anorexia Nervosa, medical monitoring may be required to "just eat". Steps must be taken to avoid Refeeding Syndrome, a serious, potentially life-threatening complication that can arise during the initial stages of receiving nutritional support. When the body is depleted of essential vitamins and minerals, sudden changes in electrolytes can shock the system. While restoring these levels, it is critical to ensure that slow, gradual increases of nutritional support are provided. Serum electrolytes (such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus), fluid balance, and proper organ function must be carefully monitored. The Rader Program can assist with this delicate process.

Find this and more interesting articles at: Jen's Blog

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