Welcome to Debate Club! Please be aware that this is a space for respectful debate, and that your ideas will be challenged here. Please remember to critique the argument, not the author.

How long can a person survive without eating?

1234579

Replies

  • Athena98501
    Athena98501 Posts: 716 Member

    That is an interesting case, but it is just one person. Apart from the other problems with her story, it's also extraordinarily unlikely that severe hyperthyroidism would've gone unnoticed in a pregnant woman receiving medical care, and it wasn't among the details of her condition. I don't know that you had that in mind for her, but that had been the way I had framed things myself.
  • christinegmac
    christinegmac Posts: 1 Member
    I went through the same thing, so I genuinely believe you. I too became unbelievably nauseated at the sight or smell of most foods throughout my ENTIRE pregnancy . All I could keep down, and don't laugh, was Froot Loops cereal with milk, sour peaches, McDonalds strawberry milkshakes, and Twizzlers. Literally everything else made me puke. It took me months to figure out what I could eat, without barfing, but in the mean-time, I lost 12lbs in 6 weeks, and was terrified that I would lose my baby. My OB rushed me to the ER, and the hospital originally just gave me saline, as I was severely dehydrated, but then they tried to feed me and I kept throwing up, so I asked if they could somehow feed me through the IV, and they brought out the glucose. But yeah, I too went for about 3 months without eating. I was so grateful for Froot Loops, but I was worried my daughter would come out looking like Toucan Sam! LOL!!! She was tiny, but perfectly healthy, thank goodness, and she loves peaches, go figure!
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    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

    You found an article about one woman, who had something wrong with her (insulin production or release or ion management), that has so far only been seen when she was ketogenic. She wasn't normal. This does not happen to other people. Something that unusual should not be used as a warning against ketosis. We might as well say that one should not eat ketogenic because you will die (eventually).

    Weird n=1's are not great for relying on as a risk factor. It would like me warning people to avoid birth control pills because they'll cause you to bleed to death because it almost happened to me. It's too weird and rare to mention. KWIM?

    Ketosis does not cause ketoacidosis, but other conditions may.
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,682 Member

    That is an interesting case, but it is just one person. Apart from the other problems with her story, it's also extraordinarily unlikely that severe hyperthyroidism would've gone unnoticed in a pregnant woman receiving medical care, and it wasn't among the details of her condition. I don't know that you had that in mind for her, but that had been the way I had framed things myself.

    no I just thought it was interesting that it could cause ketoacidosis is all
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,682 Member
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    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

    You found an article about one woman, who had something wrong with her (insulin production or release or ion management), that has so far only been seen when she was ketogenic. She wasn't normal. This does not happen to other people. Something that unusual should not be used as a warning against ketosis. We might as well say that one should not eat ketogenic because you will die (eventually).

    Weird n=1's are not great for relying on as a risk factor. It would like me warning people to avoid birth control pills because they'll cause you to bleed to death because it almost happened to me. It's too weird and rare to mention. KWIM?

    Ketosis does not cause ketoacidosis, but other conditions may.

    if you do some research ketosis CAN in some people cause ketoacidosis. maybe not directly but it can. also I posted the link to the article because I thought it was interesting. and how many others out there who may have had the same issue as the one woman but it went undetected or worse? just saying that things can happen,Im not warning anyone not to do a keto diet .in some of the studies it stated that those who were in mild ketosis had no issues but for many who have starved,been sick or even have other health issues who did keto ended up with ketoacidosis because their bodies made too many ketones and it caused issues.

    everything can have the potential for having side effects. a low fat diet for some may cause issues while for a person like me its recommended for my health issue,same with keto,it helps those with certain health issues,never debated otherwise. you are saying ketosis doesnt lead to ketoacidosis when there are studies out there saying that it can in some. should someone stay away from keto? I think they need to do in depth research and see if its safe for them to try it. it also helps to know any health issues a person may have before starting a diet.
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    nvmomketo wrote: »
    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

    You found an article about one woman, who had something wrong with her (insulin production or release or ion management), that has so far only been seen when she was ketogenic. She wasn't normal. This does not happen to other people. Something that unusual should not be used as a warning against ketosis. We might as well say that one should not eat ketogenic because you will die (eventually).

    Weird n=1's are not great for relying on as a risk factor. It would like me warning people to avoid birth control pills because they'll cause you to bleed to death because it almost happened to me. It's too weird and rare to mention. KWIM?

    Ketosis does not cause ketoacidosis, but other conditions may.

    if you do some research ketosis CAN in some people cause ketoacidosis. maybe not directly but it can. also I posted the link to the article because I thought it was interesting. and how many others out there who may have had the same issue as the one woman but it went undetected or worse? just saying that things can happen,Im not warning anyone not to do a keto diet .in some of the studies it stated that those who were in mild ketosis had no issues but for many who have starved,been sick or even have other health issues who did keto ended up with ketoacidosis because their bodies made too many ketones and it caused issues.

    everything can have the potential for having side effects. a low fat diet for some may cause issues while for a person like me its recommended for my health issue,same with keto,it helps those with certain health issues,never debated otherwise. you are saying ketosis doesnt lead to ketoacidosis when there are studies out there saying that it can in some. should someone stay away from keto? I think they need to do in depth research and see if its safe for them to try it. it also helps to know any health issues a person may have before starting a diet.

    I am saying that ketosis does not ketoacidosis, but some other health issue may. Remove or fix that health issue - the actual cause - and a person will not get ketoacidosis that is CAUSED by ketosis.

  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    Nikion901 wrote: »
    Me too ... with the severe 24/7 morning sickness for my entire pregnancy ... I was able to keep some things down ... loganberry Sno-cones, a little 7-up soda, the occasional 1/2 cup of instant rice ... all in very small quantities because one more sip and all of it would be lost. I lost weight during my pregnancy and my child was delivered at 34 weeks. That was all more than 50 years ago and I never conceived again so I don't know if the same thing would have happened with another pregnancy or not. So I gotta say ... a little sugar goes a long way and for me it was my savior.

    This was me too, although thankfully it was only 4 months. I can't imagine 9 months! Yikes! I lived on iced tea and cold or frozen juices - they were just easier coming back up than solid food. LOL
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    edited October 2017
    firef1y72 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Being in ketosis is not harmful, and I doubt they'd even monitor it for that specifically.

    Not having nutrition for that long while pregnant is, and I don't think any hospital would do that -- they have too many concerns about liability, as well as it just making no sense at all.

    This is going to sound weird but yes ketones are something that are specifically tested for in pregnancy especially if you have hyperemesis. It's how they gauge how bad the hyperemesis is, once it gets to 3+ you get hospitalised. I had my first experience of HG 27 years ago, long before it was trendy and before anyone even considered the idea of tpn for the condition.

    That makes total sense, and I expect they are gauging for ketoacidosis, as well as lack of nutrition. The reaction "you would have been in ketosis" as if that were a significant reason why not eating anything at all (or getting any calories) for 4 months while pregnant would have been dangerous struck me as weird.

    It still seems as if fasting alone is not likely to bring on ketoacidosis in a healthy person who is not diabetic, a severe alcoholic or drug user, or very young or old, but since KA can be something that happens with excessive vomiting in pregnancy, among other things, it makes sense (and I did not know this, so have learned something) that they would monitor for ketones (as well as the nutritional reason).
  • Athena98501
    Athena98501 Posts: 716 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    firef1y72 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Being in ketosis is not harmful, and I doubt they'd even monitor it for that specifically.

    Not having nutrition for that long while pregnant is, and I don't think any hospital would do that -- they have too many concerns about liability, as well as it just making no sense at all.

    This is going to sound weird but yes ketones are something that are specifically tested for in pregnancy especially if you have hyperemesis. It's how they gauge how bad the hyperemesis is, once it gets to 3+ you get hospitalised. I had my first experience of HG 27 years ago, long before it was trendy and before anyone even considered the idea of tpn for the condition.

    That makes total sense, and I expect they are gauging for ketoacidosis, as well as lack of nutrition. The reaction "you would have been in ketosis" as if that were a significant reason why not eating anything at all (or getting any calories) for 4 months while pregnant would have been dangerous struck me as weird.

    It still seems as if fasting alone is not likely to bring on ketoacidosis in a healthy person who is not diabetic, a severe alcoholic or drug user, or very young or old, but since KA can be something that happens with excessive vomiting in pregnancy, among other things, it makes sense (and I did not know this, so have learned something) that they would monitor for ketones (as well as the nutritional reason).

    I had actually been the one who said she would've been in ketosis, and I wasn't implying that it would've been harmful, merely that it was a hole in her story because she failed to mention it, even after numerous people told her she would have had to be getting glucose in her IV. She obviously did get glucose, and many other things she's denied in her IV, but still claimed angrily that she was in ketosis, after I brought it up.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    firef1y72 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Being in ketosis is not harmful, and I doubt they'd even monitor it for that specifically.

    Not having nutrition for that long while pregnant is, and I don't think any hospital would do that -- they have too many concerns about liability, as well as it just making no sense at all.

    This is going to sound weird but yes ketones are something that are specifically tested for in pregnancy especially if you have hyperemesis. It's how they gauge how bad the hyperemesis is, once it gets to 3+ you get hospitalised. I had my first experience of HG 27 years ago, long before it was trendy and before anyone even considered the idea of tpn for the condition.

    That makes total sense, and I expect they are gauging for ketoacidosis, as well as lack of nutrition. The reaction "you would have been in ketosis" as if that were a significant reason why not eating anything at all (or getting any calories) for 4 months while pregnant would have been dangerous struck me as weird.

    It still seems as if fasting alone is not likely to bring on ketoacidosis in a healthy person who is not diabetic, a severe alcoholic or drug user, or very young or old, but since KA can be something that happens with excessive vomiting in pregnancy, among other things, it makes sense (and I did not know this, so have learned something) that they would monitor for ketones (as well as the nutritional reason).

    I had actually been the one who said she would've been in ketosis, and I wasn't implying that it would've been harmful, merely that it was a hole in her story because she failed to mention it, even after numerous people told her she would have had to be getting glucose in her IV. She obviously did get glucose, and many other things she's denied in her IV, but still claimed angrily that she was in ketosis, after I brought it up.

    Ah, I first posted a couple of pages later and no doubt conflated your post with the more recent one (right before I posted). And I agree with your take on the whole thing.
  • Athena98501
    Athena98501 Posts: 716 Member
    firef1y72 wrote: »
    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.

    Sorry but if you truly had HG then all forcing yourself to eat would have done is forced yet another session with your head down the toilet bowl (or in a bucket) there is no way to stop the vomitting. I took the medication because I wanted to protect my children (plus throwing up 200+ times a day is seriously not as fun as it sounds). At my worst I literally could not keep a sip of water down let alone food.
    But I do have to say I was told that the baby would take everything it needs from you as first priority, so despite how little I ate my babies were all fine. Me, well my teeth are now rotting away as they are so weakened by the combination of stomach acid and malnutrition, I no longer have a gallbladder and I have lifelong digestive issues.

    Never said I had HG. I don't even know what HG is. I said I had severe morning sickness and lost a lot of weight. I didn't have blood work done, I got weighed and then scolded by my doctor who said I could lose my baby. Then she prescribed me anti-nausea meds and told me to try and keep food down. I ditched the meds and forced myself to keep things down. I gained weight in second trimester.

    Fyi, it had seemed that you were comparing your experience to HG, and implying that the OP and others should've just willed themselves not to throw up.

    I wasn't. I was answering "How long can you go without eating." The rest was defending my choice not to take medication from those who have decided in their heads that I'm the devil himself because I had morning sickness.

    I understand that now, but as has been said, eating very little is different from eating nothing at all. At any rate, people have listed recorded total fast durations, and the OP's own example can be considered disproven.
  • MinuitMinuet
    MinuitMinuet Posts: 156 Member
    firef1y72 wrote: »
    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.

    Sorry but if you truly had HG then all forcing yourself to eat would have done is forced yet another session with your head down the toilet bowl (or in a bucket) there is no way to stop the vomitting. I took the medication because I wanted to protect my children (plus throwing up 200+ times a day is seriously not as fun as it sounds). At my worst I literally could not keep a sip of water down let alone food.
    But I do have to say I was told that the baby would take everything it needs from you as first priority, so despite how little I ate my babies were all fine. Me, well my teeth are now rotting away as they are so weakened by the combination of stomach acid and malnutrition, I no longer have a gallbladder and I have lifelong digestive issues.

    Never said I had HG. I don't even know what HG is. I said I had severe morning sickness and lost a lot of weight. I didn't have blood work done, I got weighed and then scolded by my doctor who said I could lose my baby. Then she prescribed me anti-nausea meds and told me to try and keep food down. I ditched the meds and forced myself to keep things down. I gained weight in second trimester.

    Fyi, it had seemed that you were comparing your experience to HG, and implying that the OP and others should've just willed themselves not to throw up.

    I wasn't. I was answering "How long can you go without eating." The rest was defending my choice not to take medication from those who have decided in their heads that I'm the devil himself because I had morning sickness.

    I understand that now, but as has been said, eating very little is different from eating nothing at all. At any rate, people have listed recorded total fast durations, and the OP's own example can be considered disproven.

    I agree on that. I believe she believes she had absolutely nothing other than a saline drip.. No point in arguing with her over it. She seems pretty set on the idea so like my mom and dad, I just let her believe what she wants.
This discussion has been closed.