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Home » Cachexia: Symptoms, Treatments And Medicine’s

Cachexia: Symptoms, Treatments And Medicines

Publish Date: 24 November, 2021; Author: Darren M. Jorgenson.
Cachexia

Cachexia refers to a wasting disorder that leads to extreme muscle wasting and weight loss. It can also include body fat loss. It affects people who are in the late stages of some severe illness like HIV, kidney disease, cancer, and congestive heart failure. 

You must be thinking that it is just a weight loss like any other disease? Right!

But the difference between cachexia and other types of weight loss is that it is involuntary. Since the people who are developing it do not lose weight due to diet or exercise, they lose weight as they eat less for several reasons.

A person’s metabolism modifies that causes their body to break down too much muscle.

However, Researchers believe that cachexia or wasting syndrome is a part of the body’s response to the battle against the illness. To get more energy to fuel the brain when its nutrition stores are low, the body breaks down the fat and muscles. 

This makes a person’s body so vulnerable to various infections, which makes them more likely to die from this disease. However, simply taking more nutrition and calories also won’t help. 

Cachexia is of several types. Let us first get acquainted with its various categories.

Cachexia Categories

The three main categories of cachexia involve

1. Pre Cachexia

Pre Cachexia refers to losing up to five per cent of the body weight while having a known disease or illness.

Pre Cachexia is accompanied by inflammation, metabolism changes, and appetite loss. 

2. Cachexia

Cachexia refers to losing more than five percent of the body weight over 12 months or less.

And this occurs when you are not even trying to lose weight and have a known disease or illness. It is accompanied by decreased appetite, loss of muscle strength, and inflammation.

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3. Refractory Cachexia

Refractory cachexia occurs in cancer patients. It is muscle loss, weight loss, function loss, and a failure to respond to the cancer treatment.

Causes of Cachexia and associated health conditions

Cachexia occurs in the late stage of several debilitating health conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Cachexia is an intricate syndrome whose exact cause may vary depending upon a person’s physiology and underlying illness linked with it. However, several underlying factors that remain consistent while diverse diagnosis include:

  • Enhanced metabolic rate and energy expenditure
  • Diminished nutrient availability or intake
  • Muscle growth prevention
  • Augmented muscle breakdown

Symptoms of Cachexia

It is known that the primary symptoms of the illness include weight loss and muscle mass. However, some people also look scrawny, while others might come out to be at an average weight. 
 
Here is the list of symptoms linked with the health condition, and for the diagnosis of the health condition, you must have at least three of these findings.
 

  • Appetite loss
  • High levels of inflammation identified by blood tests
  • Low levels of protein, albumin
  • Anemia
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Fatigue
  • Low fat-free mass index
  • What are the treatments for the health condition?

    There is no specific cure for cachexia. That means there is no way to reverse cachexia. However, the treatment aims to improve the symptoms and quality of life. The current therapies for cachexia include: 
     

  • Drugs such as dronabinol to improve appetite, mood, and nausea
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Appetite stimulants like megestrol acetate
  • Medications that decrease inflammation
  • Diet changes
  • Adapted exercise
  • Risk Factors included

    Cachexia often occurs at the end stages of several severe conditions. However, a person with one of the below-mentioned conditions must consult a doctor about preventing cachexia development.

    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • Cancer
    • Chronic renal failure
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • HIV
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Congestive heart failure

    Complications involved

    The muscle wasting in the cachexia health condition is severe and can also potentially boost morbidity. However, the cachexia complications include

    • Reduced quality of life
    • Impaired response to treatments
    • Loss of capability to live independently
    • Diminished immunity
    • A diminished life expectancy from underlying disease
    • Chronic conditions escalating symptoms

    Cachexia Prevention

    Cachexia’s health condition is a side effect of several chronic diseases, so the prime focus is only prevention.
     
    Several health conditions are potentially preventable, while others can lead to cachexia that is largely unavoidable. So, an active lifestyle with balanced nutrition may help diminish the risk. 

    Bottom Line!

    Cachexia is an irreversible condition that occurs during the last stages of several severe health conditions. However, if preventive measures are adopted appropriately, it can help in reducing the risk. 

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