What Causes Loss of Appetite?

Loss of appetite, also known as anorexia, can be caused by various factors, ranging from minor to more serious medical conditions. Some common causes of loss of appetite include:

  • Illness and infections: Common illnesses, such as colds, flu, and other viral or bacterial infections, can lead to a temporary loss of appetite.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Conditions like gastroenteritis, gastritis, peptic ulcers, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause stomach discomfort and reduce appetite.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics, painkillers, antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs, can have appetite-suppressing side effects.
  • Emotional factors: Stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and other emotional disturbances can affect appetite and eating habits.
  • Chronic diseases: Conditions like cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause loss of appetite as a symptom.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Thyroid disorders, particularly hypothyroidism, can affect metabolism and appetite.
  • Aging: As people age, their appetite may naturally decrease due to changes in metabolism and hormonal factors.
  • Dental or oral health issues: Dental problems or painful mouth sores can make eating uncomfortable and lead to a decreased desire to eat.
  • Pregnancy: Some women experience loss of appetite during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and morning sickness.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can cause inflammation that affects appetite.
  • Infections of the upper respiratory tract: Conditions like sinusitis or tonsillitis can cause a temporary loss of appetite due to a stuffy nose or sore throat.
  • Anemia: Iron deficiency anemia can lead to decreased appetite and fatigue.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as stimulants or drugs used to manage ADHD, can cause appetite suppression.

If loss of appetite persists and is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention to identify the underlying cause. A healthcare professional can perform a thorough evaluation, conduct tests if necessary, and provide appropriate treatment to address the underlying issue and improve appetite.