Loss Of Appetite: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, And More

Medically reviewed by G. Liakeas, MD FACT CHECKED

The lessened or diminished desire to eat is known as loss of appetite. It is known as anorexia in medical terminology. Appetite loss can be brought on by a variety of factors.

The causes could be a result of a physical ailment, a mental condition, a desire to lose weight, the location where the food is served, the aroma of the meal, or the person’s age.

The desire to satiate your body’s demand for food to give energy for your everyday activities is known as an appetite. Satiation, satiety, and hunger are the three parts of an appetite.

The act of eating is a complicated reaction. The brain, endocrine system, gastrointestinal tract, and sensory nerves all have a role in regulating appetite.

Numerous factors stimulate hunger like when you frequently smell a delicious treat or your favorite food, it piques your taste receptors. Another aspect is the food’s color which makes you want to eat it.

Certain foods can make you feel hungry even when you’re not. A person’s eating habits are significantly influenced by their mood like when they are happy or depressed.

In this article, we will be looking at all the loss of appetite.

loss of appetite

A lack of appetite is a symptom with a wide range of potential explanations. When you are not hungry, this happens.

Anorexia is the medical word for a lack of appetite. Compared to the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, this is distinct.

You’ll feel better if you find the root of your lack of appetite and treat it. Anorexia is the loss of appetite. People who experience extreme hunger for more than a few days typically lose weight.

When someone loses weight because they do not eat enough, they frequently feel weak and exhausted.

Their quality of life and capacity to engage in routine activities may be impacted by this. Additionally, it may influence how people react to cancer therapies.

Causes Of Loss Of Appetite

Here are some causes of loss of appetite:

  • Effects Of Medication

    You should look at the meds that you are taking as the first step. Many medicines can result in appetite reduction.

    Some antibiotics, opiate painkillers, and blood pressure meds might upset the stomach and make a person not want to eat. Ibuprofen is another common offender.

  • Thyroid Dysfunction

    A person may stop feeling hungry if they have either an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

    Your metabolism is regulated by hormones that the thyroid gland secretes into the bloodstream, and changes in hormone production can affect your hunger.

  • Psychiatric Factors

    Your appetite may be significantly impacted by your mental well-being. A person’s eating behavior may be impacted by some of these conditions, some of which may be long-lasting, such as a stress reaction.

    As they work through their emotions and lose interest in eating, people who are dealing with anxiety, sorrow, depression, and stress may lose their appetite.

    When coping with depression and other mental illnesses, you need to eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated.

    People who suffer from psychological eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia have poor perspectives about food.

    Anorexics will refrain from eating enough food and calories to maintain their weight as low as possible.

  • Digestive Disorders

    Medical diseases that impact the digestive tract, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and others, can reduce appetite.

    These disorders include pain, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea, which might reduce a person’s desire to eat.

    Irritable bowel syndrome patients may also get mouth ulcers, which can make eating difficult.

Symptoms Of Loss Of Appetite

Here are some of the symptoms of loss of appetite:

  • Losing Sense Of Taste

    A person’s loss of taste may be a sign that they are losing their appetite. You experience weakness and fatigue in your body as a result of improper nutrition.

    Fatigue might result from consuming inadequate amounts of nutrients.

  • Not Feeling Hungry

    Another indication of loss of appetite is when you do not feel hungry or do not want to eat even though you have not eaten.

    An obvious and evident sign of a weak appetite is not wanting to eat.

  • Weight Loss

    The most prevalent and early sign of appetite loss is weight loss, which can occasionally result in malnutrition.

    If you start to lose weight quickly and that too unnecessarily, you should call your doctor right away.

    Additionally, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention because a lack of appetite could be a sign of alcoholism, depression, or an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Diagnosis Of Loss Of Appetite

It’s critical to keep track of any dietary or environmental changes that might be contributing to someone’s lack of appetite.

If a person is showing signs of losing their appetite, you might want to try giving them a bland diet, such as boiled chicken and white rice, to see if their hunger comes back.

If you recently modified your diet, consider going back to it or increasing the amount of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth you consume to increase your appetite.

The beginning of the lack of appetite, as well as whether you try to eat but are unsuccessful needs to be discussed with your doctor. Any recent dietary or environmental changes may be significant information.

The physical examination will include checking the mouth, throat, and teeth as well as palpating the abdomen for any potential tumors or pain.

Blood tests for liver, kidney and other organ function problems may be part of laboratory diagnoses. Any chest or abdominal abnormalities can be seen on radiographs. 

Intestinal parasites can be identified with a fecal examination. Endoscopy can be performed to help visualize the state of the stomach lining, upper small intestine, and neck.

Treatments For Loss Of Appetite

When the underlying reason is addressed, appetite loss may disappear on its own or with no treatment. Depending on the cause, treatment may or may not be required.

Infection-related appetite loss may be treated with the following methods:

  • Antivirals, for some viral infections
  • Antibiotics, if the infection is bacterial
  • Adequate hydration
  • Rest

Treatment for loss of appetite due to digestive disorders may include:

  • Avoiding gluten
  • Change of diet
  • Increased fiber intake
  • Low FODMAP diet
  • Avoiding dairy products with lactose

Treatment for loss of appetite due to psychological disorders may include:

  • Counseling
  • Antidepressants
  • A device that passes magnetic waves or electricity into the brain


Despite their desire to eat, persons who are battling a serious disease may be prevented from doing so by symptoms like loss of appetite, mouth sores, and gastrointestinal problems.

They already feel frustrated, so forcing them to eat simply makes it worse. Failure to seek treatment might lead to major consequences and irreversible harm because the loss of appetite can be caused by serious diseases.

To lessen the danger of potential consequences, you must adhere to the treatment plan that you and your healthcare provider particularly establish for you once the underlying cause has been identified.

Rarely do conditions that cause loss of appetite to become life-threatening. Dehydration, on the other hand, is a common cause of decreased appetite and, if not handled, can lead to shock, electrolyte imbalance, or coma.

If you exhibit any signs of severe dehydration, such as temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, decreased urine output, or cold skin, contact your doctor right away.

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