CSN Login
Members Online: 15

You are here

My husband is not eating-please help!

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2010

My husband completed radiation treatments for prostate cancer on March 9. He has no appetite or taste and is eating less than 700 calories/day, if that much. He is 6'3" and has already lost over 10 pounds since Feb 18th and last weighed 165 pounds. He is drinking Boost, but can't seem to eat solid food. Nothing appeals to him. I don't know what to do. I told him I wanted to take him to the emergency room to get an IV drip, but he doesn't want to go. I can't keep nagging him constantly to eat something and drink water (he contracted a urinary tract infection the other day and I think it is because he is not drinking fluids either-after the radiation treatments he just slept most of the time) I don't know what to do and would appreciated any advice.

Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

So sorry to hear of a new member of our bittersweet community. Hope you find the information and support you need here.

My mother (patient) eats less and less, but as long as she's drinking I don't try to make her eat. She knows that it pleases me to see her drinking anything, so she's pretty good about it. I have the fridge stocked with all kinds of drinkable goodies -- cookies n cream milk shake, peach yogurt smoothie, etc, and the standby chocolate ensure.

The only food I offer is soft food, because that's what she wants. Mostly what she wants is someone to sit and talk and listen to her stories, tho.

By rights you deserve to be angry as heck, but in the end the only way to survive this journey is to go with the flow. Good luck with today.

Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

My husband had head and neck cancer and went through radiation/chemo treatments. He too lost his appetite (had a feeding tube for a few months). GNC has a powdered shake mix called X-Rated extreme weight gain. It has 1000 calories per shake. I would mix it with fruit and whole milk. My husband would drink one per day to help with his weight. He would eat chocolate sundaes from McDonalds and Dr Robics shakes. If your husband does not drink enough fluids, this can lead to major problems. My husband became very dehydrated due to vomiting and ended up hospitalized. I know it is not good to "scare" your husband, but not taking enough fluids can become a major issue. You may want to speak to your husbands doctor about this. He may be able to offer some solutions to this problem. ~Cheryl

Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2013

I just joined the community.  My husband has been on Zelboraf for melanoma for 3 months and has lost about 30 pounds.  He was not heavy to begin with.  He has a horrible sweet taste and says that he cannot eat.  I have been making milkshakes with Ensure, ice cream and some heavy cream, but I am going to try to get the X-Rated extreme weight gain.  I am at wits end.  He has told the oncologist, but she is not as alarmed as I am.  Again, I thank you.--Paula

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm sorry you and your husband are now a part of the cancer world. Cheryl's shakes sound like a good thing. One of the visiting nurses suggested making milkshakes with the boost or ensure. My husband liked those. Fay

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hey and welcome to our csn caregivers family. My dad recently passed away from eshophageal/liver cancer. We went down fighting though. He too had lost about 30 lbs. Towards the end, we would give him protein shakes, shakes from Mcdonalds, yogurt, etc. It is true, as long as he drinks, he will stay hydrated. The radiation and chemo will dehydrate him. Ask the drs about how to rehydrate before and after his treatments. Hope this helps. Let us know!

NBTXGIRL's picture
Posts: 31
Joined: Aug 2009

I had a horrible time trying to get my Dad to eat. He has lost 100lbs since we started this in June 09. We tried megestrol,colestipol, boost, ensure but that made him feel worse. The dr. even discussed a feeding tube with us, but I asked for one more chance to get him to eat. He is now on Remeron, which is an anti depressant but also an appetite stimulant. It seems to help. Because he didn't eat solids for so long, I push a lot of soft foods, puddings, ice cream, soup, oatmeal, cream of wheat, breakfast shakes, anything that will at least give liquid. Good luck to you, this is a hard battle, you know they feel bad, but you also know they will feel worse. Kim

Posts: 47
Joined: Oct 2008

My husband had no appetite and was rapidily losing weight. He ended up in the hospital in January for 13 days at which time they gave him megestrol for appetite stimulant. Well it worked after a few days and now he eats everything. He is still taking the megestrol. It is a liquid that he takes 20ml (about a shot glass full) of once a day. SHeila

tracietree's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2009

Hubby has been fighting for a few years now. Is down probably 50 lbs from where he started, much of that due to the typical radiation from the first round, but now with the chemo he has a hard time managing the nausea and he keeps getting thinner...one spot is pressing on his esophagus and finally the decision was made for him. he could hardly eat or drink anything at all, only small sips, had a hard time even taking meds.

PEG tube went in afternoon. He says it hurts, but I'm sure that will subside. I wouldn't like it if someone stabbed me in the stomach either! Feedings start this evening. I can't wait for the poor man to get some "food" in his stomach, he's wssting away before my eyes.

Any feedback on challenges related to the tube would be helpful. Thanks all!

BTW this is my first post, i often lurk. thank you all for your contributions!

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Tracietree

You are correct.The pain should subside in a few days,they do a lot of manipulation to get it into place. A PEG works wonders for obviously, nutrition. I am assuming they are using some kind of "Formula" specific to his caloric needs.

Some medications can be given through a PEG as well. I don't know if your husband is on any Rx but it depends on various things, for instance some meds can be be given as a liquid form and others cannot.

The biggest issue with a PEG is that they can be prone to getting clogged.It is not an impossible situation to correct, but it does delay its purpose. This happens if medication is given and it clogs up because it is too thick. It is importnat to irrigate the PEG with water for this reason after feedings or medications.

You have likely been given information about how to use it and what to watch for, so this may be redundant information. Always bug the doctor if you see signs of redness or swelling too.


tracietree's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2009

Thanks so much, yes we'll watch out for the clogging and yes he's been told to flush, that all makes sense. They just didn't mention a word about the location pain he's feeling. He's currently using some of his exsiting Ensure while we wait (tomorrow?) for the formula delivery to arrive. And I went over with the pharmacist what can be crushed (tried one yesterday) and he has liquid morphine as well.

the one other weird thing is the tube is tied to the little disc on his stomach, with a thread and with what looks like a tie wrap for cables? should these be cut off so the tube just can come straight out? now it's pointing down and he has a difficult time keeping it from leaking :-(


Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Tracie~ My husband had a stomach tube and Mayo gave him an elastic belt with a velcro pocket. He would roll the tube up and place it in the "pouch" between feedings. It helped hold the tube in place and it did not leak. Is the leaking around the incision site? My husbands leaked for a short amount of time, but then healed. The tube will really help with weight. Just make sure that your husband is getting enough water during the day. I measured out the amount of water Mike was to have each morning. I would use this to flush before and after "meals" and medicines. If there was any left at end of day, I would give it to him via tube. (My husband could not swallow anything after radiation. In time, he could swallow by mouth). ~Cheryl

Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009


Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2010

unfortunatley, I had the same problem with my partner,she was vomiting and wasnt able to eat.I tried to get her milkshakes, boost, etc. She was in the emergency rm for fluids many times.In the end it actually ended up being that her bile ducts were clogged and they had tried to put a stent in it, but it didnt work, so they put a drain in her liver. I dont want to upset anyone, but i feel like it took so long to figure out the issue, she didnt get her chemo because she couldnt swallow. The love of my life, my best friend, died on March 16th 2010. please have your doctors look into this, it was something we didnt know about

Posts: 37
Joined: Mar 2010

Hello! I am so sorry to hear about the appetite loss. My husband was diagnosed with stage IV squammous cell carcinoma in his tonsil. Needless to say, eating has not been fun for the past year. It seems that everything that could go wrong, has. I have found that shakes can be very helpful. I found a recipe online that has aprox 1200 calories in it. It includes 1 cup of ice cream-4 TBSP choc. syrup-3 TBSP peanut butter and enough whole milk to make it the consistancy you like. I also add in boost instead of milk for more calories. My husband drinks it very slowly but it still adds alot of calories. A dietician also suggested that you add 1-2 TBSP of oil (vegetable, cannola, etc) to whatever you can to add more calories. I also went on line and ordered Boost Breeze. They come in little juice box size containers. I believe there are 250 calories in each 8 oz container, the carbs are high too. Maybe this might help you if he cant handle the size of a shake. My prayers are with you, as I know what you are going through. Hope this helps!!

Posts: 14
Joined: Dec 2009

I saw someone already noted it, but I wanted to vouch for it. My husband lost almost 50 pounds after he was diagnosed, and during the 1st round of chemo. He wouldn't even drink water, because it was triggering dry heaves. Of course, he had to be hospitalized and given fluids after a few days. The docs decided to give him Megestrol, and through the chemo he's not only stopped losing weight, but he's gained about 20 pounds so far. He has very high metabolism nautrally anyway, so this is a miracle for us. He has a wonderful appetite (our food bills have gone way up), and can even eat while he's nauseous from Chemo.

It comes in a liquid (which my husband said made him gag), and a pill, which is 1 billion times better for him. Maybe it's not for everyone? But it never hurts to ask.

lost without him
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2010

I made shakes for my husband

1 package carnation instant breakfast
1/2 cup heavy whipping crean
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp non dairy creamer
1 Tbsp sugar
some ice cream
whatever flavoring he enjoyes choc strawberry or just vanilla

mix in blender may need to add ice. over 1200 calories.

There is also a additive you usually can get from pharmacy it is called bena-calorie and it adds 400 calories to whatever you add it to. As caregivers i was always worried about calories that is our job, my husband and i argued daily about him not eating, you have to remember how sick they are they have no appetite, if he can get down a couple of ensure plus daily plus a daily vitamin, my husband loved desserts, i pureed asparagus for him not many calories but he enjoyed it. Dont spend this time arguing about food i lost louie 6 weeks ago today. Embrace that he is still here, talk to your doctor about loss of appetite there are meds to help. Make sure you have soft foods readily available and just keep asking him if he wants a little or just make him a little plate, the doctors wont let him lose to much weight. Just hang in there stay positive this is very common.

Posts: 18
Joined: Apr 2010

Our doctor recommended Marinol for my husband. It is a pill that contains the properties of marijuana that increase the appetite but doesn't have any of the other effects of regular marijuana. My husband is on chemo. My dad just finished radiation and is the same as your husband, sleeps alot, he has terrible diarrhea every time he eats, so he doesn't want to eat. He started taking acidophilus tablets (the good bacteria found in yogurt but contains much more than a serving of yogurt), and it is working.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010

my husband went thru the same thing until this wondeful nurse told us to get canned peaches-not fresh-not flavered- they worked every time! he would eat these when he was completely turned off by any food. they did help him get past the point where i could add ypgurt to them..ice cream -anything he would eat..good luck

Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

My husband never drank a lot at any one time, but there were certain things he liked so we stocked those. He'd sip on one for a little while and then develop a taste for something else. Ginger ale, root beer, O'Doul's, water, apple juice, orange juice. And at the end when swallowing was hard, he'd get pills down, sometimes, by taking them with apple sauce.

You could also try baby food. YOu don't have to specify what it is. I also pureed everything in a blender for him and sometimes he could eat a little of that.

Subscribe to Comments for "My husband is not eating-please help!"