The loss of appetite can affect both men and women of all ages. However, it is more common among girls and young women, with only approximately 10% of the affected people being men. This write-up provides information on the psychological and physiological causes of anorexia.
The loss of appetite is medically referred to as anorexia. It can cause unintentional weight loss. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by deliberate refusal to eat enough, due to the fear of weight gain. Though there could be several contributing factors for anorexia, the psychological issues and emotional distress play a major role. Though it is a serious illness which can be fatal, full recovery is possible with appropriate support and treatment. Some of the potential causes are:
- Stress: Stress is a feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. People have different ways to react to stress. Some people react poorly to stress, thereby experiencing anxiety, irritation, difficulty in concentrating, and anorexia. However, once this phase passes, the stress hormone levels usually return to normal and so does the appetite.
- Common Cold: A person affected by common cold usually experiences sore throat. Additionally, a persistent abnormal taste in the mouth (due to the medication and cold) worsens the condition, due to which one might not feel like eating. Since, the viral infection lasts only for a few weeks, the appetite returns to normal as soon as the condition resolves.
- Pregnancy: The symptoms of nausea and vomiting (popularly known as morning sickness) are common during the first trimester. This sensation could affect women psychologically, thereby leading to anorexia.
- Hypothyroidism: Anorexia is one of the late symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, once the doctor prescribes the medications, the appetite may gradually return to normal. This differs from case to case.
- Constipation: Constipation usually gives the sensation of fullness of stomach, which in turn reduces the appetite of the person. The other causes of intestinal obstruction can also lead to anorexia.
- Diarrhea: This condition is characterized by frequent and fluid bowel movements. Thus, prolonged diarrhea causes anorexia.
- Aging: As we age, the body loses several essential nutrients. Lack of such nutrients, especially zinc, decreases the sensation of the taste buds. This is one of the major causes for anorexia in the elderly.
- Wrong Medications:If a doctor prescribes wrong medications or the person is allergic to certain medications, then the person may have a metallic taste in the mouth, which might lead to anorexia.
- Nausea: A person may experience nausea due to infections, fever, sinus infection, etc. The feeling of nausea might be followed by anorexia. However, once the infection is treated, the nausea and anorexia would pass.
- Food Poisoning: Food poisoning is a common occurrence throughout the world. Consuming contaminated food causes food poisoning, which in turn might lead to a decreased appetite.
- Cancer: Chemotherapy is one of the treatment used for cancer patients. The person undergoing this therapy often feels nauseous and eventually experiences anorexia.
- Depression: A depressed person may lose interest in the food. Chronic depression may result in anorexia for a considerable period of time. Once the person overcomes his/her depression, he/she might regain his/her normal appetite.
Poor appetite by itself, is rarely serious. However, it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which could be life-threatening. The treatment for this condition would vary, depending on the causes for anorexia.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.