5

Refeeding syndrome is a potentially fatal condition caused by eating too much or too fast after a period of starvation.

My question is, how long of a period are we talking about?

2

The linked Wikipedia article's first reference (pdf) recommends to start precautions at the 5 day mark when tube-feeding. These precautions are to feed only 50% of calorie needs for the first two days and continue as normal if no problems arise. Further, a patient at high-risk of refeeding syndrome would need to be cared for by an expert. They should start feeding further below the metabolic rate, ramp up during the next 4-7 days.

The article gives these criteria for a high risk for refeeding syndrome:

At least one of

  • BMI less than 16 kg/m2
  • Unintentional weight loss greater than 15% during the last 3-6 months
  • Little to no nutritional intake for more than 10 days

OR At least two of

  • BMI less than 18.5 kg/m2
  • Unintentional weight loss greater than 10%
  • Little to no nutritional intake for more than 5 days
  • A history of alcohol abuse or drugs including insulin, chemotherapy, antacids or diuretics

So, start taking precautions if starvation has lasted 4-5 days and seek professional help if you match the above criteria.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.