Have you been wondering the reason for your loss of appetite? It may be caused due to various reasons, such as illness or physical or emotional changes in your body. It is medically known as anorexia and may cause malnutrition, weight loss, and other deficiencies. Serious health issues may arise if appetite loss persists without treatment. It is therefore important to identify and treat the underlying causes of a loss of appetite.
We spoke to our expert Dr KS Somasekhar Rao, Senior Consultant, Gastroenterologist, Hepatologist and Advanced Therapeutic Endoscopist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, who explained the causes, signs, and management tips for loss of appetite.
What Is Anorexia?
A loss of appetite is characterised by a lack of hunger or desire to eat. It may occur suddenly or gradually over a long period. If it persists for more than a week, it is usually cause for concern. People who have a loss of appetite don’t feel hungry.
“However, you must know that anorexia isn’t the same as the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Despite feeling hungry, a person with anorexia nervosa may limit their food intake. On the other hand, anorexia causes a decrease in appetite, which prevents you from feeling hungry and so from feeling the need to eat,” highlighted Dr Rao.
Signs Of Loss Of Appetite
Dr Rao listed the signs of a loss of appetite as follows:
- Having little or no interest in food
- Not eating your favourite foods
- Missing meals
- Weight changes
- Low energy levels
- Muscle weakness
According to Nutrition and Metabolism, in India, a staggering 93% of patients with serious illnesses have a loss of appetite. Those with a history of any medical condition are 1.5 times more likely to be at risk.
Causes Of Loss Of Appetite
The most common causes of loss of appetite as listed by Dr Rao are as follows:
- Feeling full
- Not enjoying the taste of food
- Physical changes in the body, such as pain or pregnancy
- Emotional changes in your mental health, such as anxiety, stress, or depression
- Underlying health conditions, such as cancer, anaemia, and diabetes
- Side effects of any medication
How To Manage Loss Of Appetite
Loss of appetite can be treated depending on its underlying causes. Dr Rao listed some of the management measures as follows:
- Eat small meals regularly throughout the day to keep your nutrient intake in check
- Managing any illnesses, infections or underlying conditions will help in treating loss of appetite
- You can consult a mental health professional if you notice unusual eating patterns
- Getting advice from a nutritionist to help you control your eating patterns
Dr Rao concluded, “You need to consume food regularly to maintain your body’s strength and proper function, as a lack of caloric intake can become life-threatening.”[Disclaimer: The information in this article is shared by a registered healthcare professional and is for informational purposes only. Hence, we advise you to consult your expert if you notice any symptoms of loss of appetite for effective management measures.]