Decreased Appetite


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By Medicover Hospitals / 26 Feb 2021
Home | symptoms | decreased-appetite
  • Decreased desire to eat is a common symptom of many medical and psychological conditions. Almost any illness can cause a decrease in appetite. An extreme, decreased appetite can lead to weight loss and malnutrition, which is unwanted. Medically, the decreased appetite is known as anorexia.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is the loss of appetite?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Home Remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What is the loss of appetite?

  • Loss of appetite medically known as anorexia can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases. Any of the symptoms, including lack of appetite from the effects of drugs, maybe acute and reversible. Some of the conditions can be more serious, such as those arising from the effects of underlying cancer. A healthcare professional should evaluate any persistent lack of appetite.
  • Along with the loss of appetite, a person can also experience fatigue and weight loss if they are not eating enough food to support their body.
  • Digestive System Symptoms That May Occur Along With Poor Appetite.
  • A loss of appetite may accompany other signs that affect the digestive system, including:
    • Abdominal pain or cramps
    • Changes in taste or smell
    • Chronic or persistent diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Heartburn
    • Indigestion
    • Jaundice
    • Nausea with or without vomiting


  • Several conditions can cause a decrease in appetite. In most cases, your appetite will return to normal once the underlying condition or reason is treated.
  • Bacteria and viruses:

  • Bacterial, infectious, fungal, or other pathogens may cause appetite loss.
  • There are only a few of the outcomes that are possible:
    • an upper respiratory infection
    • pneumonia
    • gastroenteritis
    • colitis
    • a skin infection
    • meningitis
  • After proper treatment for the disease, your appetite will return.
  • Psychological causes:

  • There are several psychological causes for decreased appetite. Many older adults lose their appetite, although experts don't know exactly why.
  • Your appetite may also decrease when you are sad, depressed, upset, or anxious. A reduced appetite has also been related to boredom and stress.
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, can also lead to an overall decreased appetite. A person with anorexia nervosa goes through starvation or other methods of losing weight.
  • People with this condition are often underweight and afraid of gaining weight. Anorexia nervosa can also cause malnutrition.
  • Medical conditions:

  • The following medical conditions can cause your appetite to decrease:
    • chronic liver disease
    • kidney failure
    • heart failure
    • hepatitis
    • HIV
    • dementia
    • hypothyroidism
  • Cancer can also cause loss of appetite, especially if the cancer is concentrated in the following areas:
    • colon
    • stomach
    • ovaries
    • pancreas
    • pregnancy can also cause loss of appetite during the first trimester


  • Some medicines and drugs can reduce your appetite. These include illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, along with prescription drugs.
  • Some prescription drugs that reduce appetite include:
    • certain antibiotics
    • codeine
    • morphine
    • chemotherapy drugs


  • A doctor will look at all of the symptoms a person is experiencing and use them to determine the possible cause of the loss of appetite.
  • A doctor can examine a person's abdomen by feeling with the hand for unusual swelling, lumps, or tenderness. This can help them find out if a gastrointestinal disorder is causing loss of appetite.
  • A doctor can also run tests to help them determine the cause. The tests may include:
    • blood tests
    • an abdominal X-ray
    • an endoscopy, in which a camera allows doctors to see inside the body


  • During your appointment, your doctor will try to create a complete picture of your symptoms. They will measure your weight and height and compare it to the population average.
  • You will also be asked about your medical history, the medications you take, and your diet. Be prepared to answer questions about:
    • when the symptom started
    • either mild or severe
    • how much weight have you lost
    • if there was any triggering event
    • if you have other symptoms
    • Then tests may be needed to find the cause of the decreased appetite
  • Possible tests include:
    • an ultrasound of your abdomen
    • a complete blood count
    • tests of your liver, thyroid, and kidney function (usually only require a blood sample)
    • an upper GI series, which includes X-rays that examine your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
    • a CT scan of your head, chest, abdomen, or pelvis
    • In some cases, you will have a pregnancy and HIV test. Your urine may be checked for drug residues.
  • If your decreased appetite has resulted in malnutrition, you may be given nutrients through an IV.
  • Your doctor may also prescribe oral medications to stimulate your appetite.
  • If your loss of appetite is the result of depression, an eating disorder, or drug abuse, you may be referred to a mental health specialist.
  • Loss of appetite caused by medications can be treated by changing your dose or changing your prescription. Never change your medications without first checking with your doctor.
  • When to visit a Doctor?

  • People can talk to a doctor if they have a loss of appetite for a long time. If they notice unexpected or rapid weight loss, they should also see their doctor.
  • A person should seek medical help if they notice any other symptoms along with loss of appetite, such as:
    • stomach pain
    • fever
    • shortness of breath
    • coughing
    • fast or irregular heartbeat

    Home Remedies:

    Make sleep a priority:

    • follow a regular sleep schedule
    • develop and maintain a relaxing routine before bed, which may involve reading or taking a warm bath
    • ensure a relaxing, dark, calm, and cool sleep environment
    • avoid caffeine and other stimulants near bedtime

    Drink lots of water:

  • Dehydration can lead to reduced levels of energy and symptoms of tiredness. Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet:

  • Dehydration can lead to reduced levels of energy and symptoms of tiredness. Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet:

  • Dehydration can lead to reduced levels of energy and symptoms of tiredness. Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Focus on stress management:

  • Stress can lead to digestive problems, trouble sleeping, and fatigue. Stress can also exacerbate underlying health conditions, such as depression, fibromyalgia, and Crohn's disease. The following activities can help a person manage their stress levels:
    • regular exercise
    • meditation
    • talk therapy

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • As a result of digestive problems, such as nausea, people with a vitamin B-12 deficiency may lose their appetite. Decreased appetite can lead to long-term weight loss.
  • Anxiety triggers emotional and psychological changes in your body to help you cope with pressure. These changes often affect the stomach and digestive tract and can cause you to lose your appetite.
  • Both nausea and loss of appetite are linked to psychological problems, such as stress and anxiety. A person who is very nervous or depressed can lose his or her appetite. A known symptom of anxiety disorders is nausea.
  • Try to give the patient 6 to 8 small meals and snacks each day. Offer starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, or potatoes, with protein-rich foods, such as fish, chicken, meats, turkey, eggs, cheeses, milk, tofu, nuts, peanut butter, yogurt, peas, and beans.
  • Citations:

  • Science Direct -
  • American Geriatrics Society -
  • Wiley's Online Library -