Maintaining a healthy appetite is crucial for our overall well-being as it helps us consume the required nutrients and boosts our eating inclination.
The process of appetite regulation involves the body recognising the need for food and sending signals to the brain, such as a growling stomach. Hormones like ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the satiety hormone) play a pivotal part in controlling our appetite.
Various factors can disrupt the regulation of these hormones and affect our appetite. It's common to experience a decrease in appetite for multiple reasons, including environmental factors, medication, or psychological or physical conditions.
If you experience a decrease in appetite, it is usually a temporary condition. However, treatment for an underlying issue may be necessary if it persists. In this case, the following are some potential causes:
When you're sick, the body produces cytokines, which regulate appetite by acting on neurons in the brain as part of an inflammatory and immune response. This decreases our desire to eat, suppressing our appetite drive.
There are medical conditions that can impact our appetite in varying manners. A few of these conditions that can lead to a loss of appetite are:
Conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis can diminish your appetite and interest in food.
Individuals with poorly managed diabetes may experience a decreased appetite due to a condition known as gastroparesis, in which damaged nerves slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract.
As we grow older, our hunger cravings tend to change. According to estimates, around 30% of elderly individuals experience a decline in appetite, leading to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Research suggests that older individuals have higher levels of the hormone peptide YY, which promotes feelings of fullness.
Various conditions, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and dental and swallowing issues, can also contribute to decreased appetite. Additionally, a lack of physical activity, social isolation, or difficulty preparing meals may reduce the desire to eat.
It's common for mental health issues to affect one's appetite. For example, individuals who are depressed may experience a loss of interest in food. Similarly, stress, anxiety, or significant life events like a breakup or losing a loved one can also decrease our desire to eat.
When our brain releases the hormone adrenaline during stressful situations, it can slow down our digestive system. Additionally, depression can trigger the production of corticotropin-releasing hormone, decreasing our appetite.
Some medications, such as opioid painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants, and medication for type 2 diabetes, can cause a decrease in appetite as a side effect.
Appetite loss can also be a side effect of cancer treatments, with around 60% of cancer patients experiencing this symptom. Treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy can lead to changes in taste and cause symptoms such as nausea, which can worsen the loss of appetite.
If you suspect one of your medications is affecting your appetite, it's best to discuss this with your doctor. They may suggest alternative options that work better for you.
When the thyroid gland in your body is not producing enough hormones, which is also known as hypothyroidism, you may experience several symptoms.
One of the common symptoms is a decrease in appetite. Additionally, you may experience weight gain, tiredness, and depression. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor who can conduct a blood test to check the level of thyroid hormones in your body.
Anorexia nervosa is a severe mental health condition that involves restricting food intake and over-exercising to maintain a meagre body weight.
This can also result in a decrease in appetite. Individuals with this disorder often have a distorted and negative body perception. It requires specialised medical attention and can be life-threatening in severe instances.
Excessive alcohol consumption manifests in various physical symptoms, such as experiencing stomach discomfort, developing a yellowish skin tone, and feeling numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. Additionally, it can significantly influence your appetite, causing a complete loss of interest in food as your attention becomes primarily fixated on alcohol.
If you're struggling with controlling your alcohol intake, it's advisable to consult a medical professional who can offer additional assistance and recommend appropriate support.
While a decrease in appetite and skipping meals can stem from various factors, they may also be a direct consequence of other associated symptoms, including:
Similar to other viruses, COVID-19 can impact our appetite. However, one of its prominent symptoms, the loss of smell or taste, can also significantly influence our desire to eat. A study revealed that 87% of those who had a diminished sense of smell or taste due to COVID-19 reported a decreased enjoyment of food.
Pregnancy often leads to a reduction in appetite, primarily because of nausea. The term "morning sickness" can occur at any time during the day and is most prevalent in the first trimester.
Hyperemesis gravidarum represents an extreme form of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, which can result in dehydration and weight loss. If you are experiencing this condition, it is crucial to consult with a doctor or midwife, as it typically necessitates treatment with anti-nausea medications and may require hospitalisation for fluid rehydration.
Maintaining a healthy appetite and energy levels can be difficult when dealing with other medical conditions. Fatigue can cause people to feel less motivated to cook or eat, and a lack of appetite can lead to a drop in energy, further contributing to tiredness.
A decreased appetite can arise from various factors, but it's crucial to seek medical advice if you observe additional symptoms accompanying this loss of appetite, including:
Suppose you're dealing with persistent appetite loss that doesn't appear to have a straightforward explanation, like a common cold or flu. In that case, it's advisable to consult a doctor for a thorough evaluation.
Mobi Doctor is here to assist. Our team of healthcare professionals can offer expert guidance and support for a wide range of health concerns, including appetite loss, ensuring you receive the necessary care and advice tailored to your specific needs.