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How long can a person survive without eating?

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  • crackpotbaby
    crackpotbaby Posts: 1,297 Member
    Had the same issue with my first pregnancy but wasn't hospitalized. I went from a 160 to 128 in a couple of months. Couldn't keep anything down. The doctor told me I was going to kill my baby if I didn't eat and gave me nausea medication (which I never took.) I forced my self to nibble food and fight the urge to run to the bathroom. It didn't end till second semester. I was so thin by then that strangers on the street thought I was homeless and would offer me food...which only made me gag and run to a trash can at just the suggestion. Sucked. An ultra sound at a specialist revealed my son would be born only 4 pounds. He was 8.6 pounds.

    As for how long you can go without food? I think it would depend on your body size. Jesus went 40 days. I went nearly 2 months while pregnant. I starved myself to lose weight after my second baby was born. That was about 2 months also but I was over 200pounds then. But 3 weeks I think would be average.

    Why on earth would you do that?

    Seriously, they told you you could KILL your unborn child yet you didn't take the medication. I can't wrap my head around a parent doing that.

    Thalidomide. It used to be prescribed for nausea and had devastating effects on the unborn child. I know it is not prescribed during pregnancy anymore but the physiological effect of the past still continues.

    It is unethical to test drugs on pregnant women so we still do not know for sure the effects of drugs on the unborn child until later. Some people will take a risk and some won't, sometimes the risk is very, very small and changes depending on the trimester but it is for the parents to weigh up those risks for themselves.

    Indeed.

  • ruqayyahsmum
    ruqayyahsmum Posts: 1,514 Member
    jdlobb wrote: »
    World record for longest fast is like 45 days I think.

    Nope check Irish hunger strikers. Longest who lived was on day 72 before his family gave permission to tube feed him
  • wackyfunster
    wackyfunster Posts: 944 Member
    Scubdup wrote: »
    In case no one has posted this yet: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

    TL;DR: 382 days with no food for morbidly obese man under medical supervision. As long as you get electrolytes, you can survive without food until you reach essential levels of body fat (2-4% for men, 10-12% for women).

    Thanks for posting that - pretty interesting.

    I note that, far from receiving no nutrition the patient in that case received a fair bit, far more in line with what people have said in response to the OP in this thread:-

    "During the 382 days of his fast,
    vitamin supplements were given daily as 'Multivite'
    (BDH), vitamin C and yeast for the first 10 months
    and as 'Paladac' (Parke Davis), for the last 3 months.
    Non-caloric fluids were allowed ad libitum. From
    Day 93 to Day 162 only, he was given potassium
    supplements (two effervescent potassium tablets
    BPC supplying 13 mEq daily) and from Day 345 to
    Day 355 only he was given sodium supplements (2 5 g
    sodium chloride daily). No other drug treatment was
    given."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

    Also worth checking out if you're interested... full text was originally published as "The Biology of Human Starvation" and is ~1400 pages, but an interesting read IMO. The very terse version is that people under a controlled diet lose weight in an liner manner as anticipated by CICO (notably, some metabolic downregulation did occur as body fat reached single digits, but not enough to stop the weight loss), until they reach essential levels of body fat (as above). Subjects DID have food, but significantly less than required for weight maintenance.
  • macchiatto
    macchiatto Posts: 2,890 Member
    In case no one has posted this yet: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

    TL;DR: 382 days with no food for morbidly obese man under medical supervision. As long as you get electrolytes, you can survive without food until you reach essential levels of body fat (2-4% for men, 10-12% for women).

    Fascinating! I've heard of a few people doing 40-day fasts (the ones I knew were doing it for spiritual reasons) but had no idea it was possible to survive for *that* long.
    The longest I've gone without food was about 30 hrs.
  • Christine_72
    Christine_72 Posts: 16,049 Member
    Had the same issue with my first pregnancy but wasn't hospitalized. I went from a 160 to 128 in a couple of months. Couldn't keep anything down. The doctor told me I was going to kill my baby if I didn't eat and gave me nausea medication (which I never took.) I forced my self to nibble food and fight the urge to run to the bathroom. It didn't end till second semester. I was so thin by then that strangers on the street thought I was homeless and would offer me food...which only made me gag and run to a trash can at just the suggestion. Sucked. An ultra sound at a specialist revealed my son would be born only 4 pounds. He was 8.6 pounds.

    As for how long you can go without food? I think it would depend on your body size. Jesus went 40 days. I went nearly 2 months while pregnant. I starved myself to lose weight after my second baby was born. That was about 2 months also but I was over 200pounds then. But 3 weeks I think would be average.

    Why on earth would you do that?

    Seriously, they told you you could KILL your unborn child yet you didn't take the medication. I can't wrap my head around a parent doing that.

    Thalidomide. It used to be prescribed for nausea and had devastating effects on the unborn child. I know it is not prescribed during pregnancy anymore but the physiological effect of the past still continues.

    It is unethical to test drugs on pregnant women so we still do not know for sure the effects of drugs on the unborn child until later. Some people will take a risk and some won't, sometimes the risk is very, very small and changes depending on the trimester but it is for the parents to weigh up those risks for themselves.

    Apart from the fact that that wasn't the reasoning that was given... that might be your opinion, but it wasn't that of the person who refused the meds prescribed to her.

    I don't know the name of the drug I was prescribed, what I do know is that I was in highschool and the idea of harming my baby in any way was unacceptable.. that meant no medications and forcing myself to eat regardless of my discomfort to protect my child. I was so about protecting my children that I refused an epidural during both of their births. I breast fed both for two years each. No, I did NOT put my child's life in danger by refusing to take medication.

    I cant blame you for not wanting to take drugs while you were pregnant, i wouldn't have either. This is way before our time and medicine has come a long way, but my mum had terrible morning sickness with my older brother, long story short.. the medication the doctors wanted her to take (which she refused) was later confirmed to cause severe birth defects.

    I had terrible, terrible all day sickness with both of my kids, but i still forced myself to eat and drink.
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    edited October 2017
    In the first few months of pregnancy, there is not a crucial need for higher calories like there is in the later part. I was very sick with all of my kids in the first 4 months. In the first 4 month, I lost 15-20 lbs with all of them while taking some antinausea drugs - they affected thinking and caused drowsiness so I had to limit them on some days.

    Later, I ate more, or kept more in, and had healthy weight kids.

    As to the saline drip, it really is hard to get a saline drip without sugar in it. Even T1 diabetics in the hospital for ketacidosis are given the sugar drip for some reason.
    and if in ketosis for that long couldnt a person end up with ketoacidosis even without having diabetes?

    No. Ketoacidosis involves very high ketones and very high blood glucose. When fasting your blood glucose does not go higher, and tends to go down, even if one is given a 5% glucose saline drip. The exception would be T1 diabetics. Their BG will go up over time.

    But if denied insulin for some reason, a T1D will delay ketoacidosis by fasting.

  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,682 Member
    edited October 2017
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    In the first few months of pregnancy, there is not a crucial need for higher calories like there is in the later part. I was very sick with all of my kids in the first 4 months. In the first 4 month, I lost 15-20 lbs with all of them while taking some antinausea drugs - they affected thinking and caused drowsiness so I had to limit them on some days.

    Later, I ate more, or kept more in, and had healthy weight kids.

    As to the saline drip, it really is hard to get a saline drip without sugar in it. Even T1 diabetics in the hospital for ketacidosis are given the sugar drip for some reason.
    and if in ketosis for that long couldnt a person end up with ketoacidosis even without having diabetes?

    No. Ketoacidosis involves very high ketones and very high blood glucose. When fasting your blood glucose does not go higher, and tends to go down, even if one is given a 5% glucose saline drip. The exception would be T1 diabetics. Their BG will go up over time.

    But if denied insulin for some reason, a T1D will delay ketoacidosis by fasting.
    look up starvation ketoacidosis and there is this https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21315580

    it can also be brought on with alcohol its called alcohol induced ketoacidosis
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    In the first few months of pregnancy, there is not a crucial need for higher calories like there is in the later part. I was very sick with all of my kids in the first 4 months. In the first 4 month, I lost 15-20 lbs with all of them while taking some antinausea drugs - they affected thinking and caused drowsiness so I had to limit them on some days.

    Later, I ate more, or kept more in, and had healthy weight kids.

    As to the saline drip, it really is hard to get a saline drip without sugar in it. Even T1 diabetics in the hospital for ketacidosis are given the sugar drip for some reason.
    and if in ketosis for that long couldnt a person end up with ketoacidosis even without having diabetes?

    No. Ketoacidosis involves very high ketones and very high blood glucose. When fasting your blood glucose does not go higher, and tends to go down, even if one is given a 5% glucose saline drip. The exception would be T1 diabetics. Their BG will go up over time.

    But if denied insulin for some reason, a T1D will delay ketoacidosis by fasting.
    look up starvation ketoacidosis and there is this https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21315580

    it can also be brought on with alcohol its called alcohol induced ketoacidosis

    Alcoholic acidosis can happen in very severe cases where the alcoholic is just drinking and no longer eating. The pancreas stops making insulin for a while and it happens. It is unusual but it happens in extreme cases, but not necessarily with starvation. Usually with lots of vomitting.

    That paper you linked to is an odd one. And a rare one. If she had ketoacidosis, I do not understand why she does not need insulin to bring her glucose down.

    Being in ketosis does not cause ketoacidosis though. Ever. Problems with glucose is the problem in ketoacidosis. Other forms of acidosis can occur with an ion imbalance, as I understand it - pretty rare.
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,682 Member
    edited October 2017
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    In the first few months of pregnancy, there is not a crucial need for higher calories like there is in the later part. I was very sick with all of my kids in the first 4 months. In the first 4 month, I lost 15-20 lbs with all of them while taking some antinausea drugs - they affected thinking and caused drowsiness so I had to limit them on some days.

    Later, I ate more, or kept more in, and had healthy weight kids.

    As to the saline drip, it really is hard to get a saline drip without sugar in it. Even T1 diabetics in the hospital for ketacidosis are given the sugar drip for some reason.
    and if in ketosis for that long couldnt a person end up with ketoacidosis even without having diabetes?

    No. Ketoacidosis involves very high ketones and very high blood glucose. When fasting your blood glucose does not go higher, and tends to go down, even if one is given a 5% glucose saline drip. The exception would be T1 diabetics. Their BG will go up over time.

    But if denied insulin for some reason, a T1D will delay ketoacidosis by fasting.
    look up starvation ketoacidosis and there is this https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21315580

    it can also be brought on with alcohol its called alcohol induced ketoacidosis

    Alcoholic acidosis can happen in very severe cases where the alcoholic is just drinking and no longer eating. The pancreas stops making insulin for a while and it happens. It is unusual but it happens in extreme cases, but not necessarily with starvation. Usually with lots of vomitting.

    That paper you linked to is an odd one. And a rare one. If she had ketoacidosis, I do not understand why she does not need insulin to bring her glucose down.

    Being in ketosis does not cause ketoacidosis though. Ever. Problems with glucose is the problem in ketoacidosis. Other forms of acidosis can occur with an ion imbalance, as I understand it - pretty rare.

    not saying she has or had ketoacidosis. but ketosis can cause ketoacidosis in rare conditions as well especially those with uncontrolled diabetes who do keto and those with type 1 can have this issue. also and there is this-http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc052709#t=article

    not saying the OP had ketoacidosis but it could have happened had she not been eating but she said she forced herself to eat.so it also says that those who end up with ketoacidosis from starving or being sick can be reversed with saline and so on.but someone who is starving themselves or are starving from being sick and cant keep anything down can end up with ketoacidosis. unless I comprehended the studies incorrectly
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