What is loss of appetite?Anorexia can have many reasons. The most common causes are an upset stomach, stress and psychosomatic stress.
Loss of appetite is usually not linked to a serious illness, but if it lasts longer or is psychologically conditioned, it can quickly become a serious disease, the so-called anorexia nervosa or anorexia. This pathological loss of appetite is an eating disorder characterized by the patient (less often the patient) refusing to maintain a healthy body weight due to a disturbed self-image and the compulsive fear of gaining weight.
This is based on a cognitive misconception of the own body, the nutrition in general and the food in particular. This form of loss of appetite usually has a number of comorbidities such. Depression or personality disorders and is one of the highest mortality psychiatric disorders.
While stereotyping persists, anorexia in the form of anorexia affects only young women of Western cultures, it is scientifically proven that this disease can affect both women and men, of all ages, races and socio-economic or cultural groups. Loss of appetite is not genetic.
Signs & Symptoms
Someone who suffers from loss of appetite displays many different symptoms. These can vary in their type and severity and burden the affected person individually and to varying degrees. Anorexia nervosa and its associated malnutrition can cause serious complications in the human organ system and is mainly reflected in the following:
- fast and obvious dramatic weight loss
- compulsive preoccupation with calorie and fat content of food
- Diet mania despite a slimmer or even underweight appearance
- Scarring on the hand by repeated contact with the teeth while permanently inducing the nausea
- swollen cheeks due to frequent vomiting
- Ulcers on the extremities due to susceptibility to cold and wet conditions (chilblains)
- Skin damage (acne)
- excessive exercise or physical activity
- depressive, sad mood
- Rituals like infinite crushing of food
- Avoiding family, friends, and acquaintances (social withdrawal) by loss of appetite during meals
With loss of appetite, the normal human appetite for food or the hungry craving for food is greatly reduced. If food intake is severely restricted over a longer period of time, it will cause physical damage, which can lead to death by starvation.
As a rule, the lack of appetite occurs with other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well as many other infectious diseases. But emotional influences, such as the death of a family member, can reduce the appetite severely. Rarely does anorexia occur in tumors.
The causes of morbid loss of appetite can also be physical, but also be found in the social environment. For example, complications before and at birth may be the reason, a genetic predisposition or neurological dysregulation or circulatory disorders in the brain, autoimmune diseases or nutritional deficiencies such as zinc deficiency may be the cause of anorexia nervosa (anorexia).
However, socio-cultural studies have also shown that other factors can trigger such loss of appetite, such as the beauty ideal of slimness propagated by the media, professional (pre) images such as models and dancers, or developmental or behavioral disorders with autistic characteristics.
Diseases with this symptom
- abdominal influenza
- colon cancer
- Duodenal ulcer
- stomach ulcer
- stomach cancer
- Gastric mucosal inflammation (gastritis)
- irritable stomach
- Crohn's disease
- Darmentzündung_ (enteritis)
- Ovarian Cancer
- Sarcoidosis (Boeck's disease)
- Hand-foot-mouth disease
Especially related to the symptom of loss of appetite is the complication of weight loss. If there is no feeling of hunger, the human being has no natural incentive to eat. If he still eats, this is based on "rituals" and social customs. In some diseases associated with loss of appetite, however, such "rituals" and customs are no longer implemented.
This is the case above all for the mental illnesses that lead to anorexia. Especially then it may come due to the loss of appetite to a partially rapid loss of weight. This weight loss follows from the omission of the food. The complication of weight loss is quite serious, as it can have harmful effects on your health. A weight loss occurs when the intake of energy is less than the energy requirement. It follows logically that the body is weakened.
The necessary energy must be "fetched" from the reserves of the body. For this purpose, muscle and fat mass are reduced. If this happens to a greater extent, this circumstance weakens the body quite strongly. It is important to eat well enough despite the loss of appetite to meet the energy needs of the body and thus to prevent weight loss. In case of lack of food, it comes after some time to the so-called hunger metabolism. Overall, in case of prolonged loss of appetite in any case a doctor should be consulted.
When should you go to the doctor?
Loss of appetite requires medical attention if the symptoms persist for a prolonged period, and unwanted weight loss or other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or fatigue and weakness are added.
If the lack of appetite persists for several days or weeks, may be a serious physical or psychological cause, such as a tumor or a disease of the gastrointestinal tract, an anxiety disorder or depression on the basis - a doctor's visit is recommended if the symptoms in one Period of one week does not go back and instead continues to increase in the course and lead to further problems.
In children and the elderly, loss of appetite is a natural phenomenon that requires medical attention if it is accompanied by a decreased heart rate, dehydration, or general feeling of weakness and persists for several days without any improvement in symptoms.
As a general rule, due to the multiple causes that can cause loss of appetite and the direct effects on well-being and performance that malnutrition brings, a timely visit to a doctor is almost always advisable. Patients who have suffered from anorexia or a general reluctance to eat in the past should consult a gastroenterologist. Even people with pre-existing diseases of the heart or the immune system, it is advisable to clarify the symptoms quickly.
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Treatment & Therapy
Morbid anorexia is diagnosed by an experienced specialist, who initially has to rule out serious other illnesses such as infections, endocrine disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, tumors or a whole series of other psychiatric disorders that can cause the same or similar symptoms. There is a whole arsenal of diagnostic criteria available for this. The distinction from other forms of eating disorders (such as bulimia) must be ensured.
The treatment of anorexia nervosa depends on the individual condition and severity of the disease and is aimed at three main areas: the restoration of a healthy minimum weight, the treatment of the underlying or concomitant psychiatric disorder as well as the elimination of the obsessional thoughts that led to the disturbed eating habits and maintaining appetite again and again.
A nutritional supplement with zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and other micronutrients, as well as responsible parenting education forms the basis. The drug olanzapine, an atypical antipsychotic drug, has proven to be effective in increasing the body mass index and reducing obsessional thoughts. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluvoxamine is also used to treat OCD. Another pillar of therapy is cognitive behavior therapy, which works on an evidence-based basis and promises good results in the event of anorexia.
The prognosis for anorexia nervosa (anorexia nervosa) is good and, if treated, is not chronic. The average duration of a period is just under two years. A complete decay succeeds in up to 90 percent of the patients, the relapse rate for mentally impaired appetite is 30 percent.
Outlook & Forecast
Lack of appetite does not have to be treated by the doctor and is in many cases temporary. It does not last very long and often disappears on its own. Anorexia is usually associated with another event, such as stress or some other mental stress.
As a result of loss of appetite, the body always suffers from weight loss. This is often not noticeable to the affected person, but is perceived by outsiders.
Against the loss of appetite, there are some means that can be prescribed by the doctor. These should only be taken if there is no other way to eat enough food.
Not infrequently, the loss of appetite leads to anorexia and thus to a very poor physical and mental condition. In such cases, a doctor must be consulted. Here is not only a treatment with drugs, but also a therapy with a psychiatrist necessary.
Often, the loss of appetite is associated with temporary stress situations and disappears even when the trigger is gone. In most people, the lack of appetite takes a positive course of the disease and goes away again by itself.
Prophylactically, individuals can certainly do something about impending loss of appetite: it is important to stick to fixed meals and not to constantly eat anything "in passing", but to look forward to the mealtime. Fast food should be avoided. It is important to appreciate each meal, to take time for the fresh preparation of varied food and to eat slowly. It can also be appetizing to go shopping with friends, then cook together and celebrate the meal extensively. Similarly, long walks and lots of exercise in nature and in the fresh air help.
You can do that yourself
Loss of appetite can often be overcome with home remedies and simple measures. First, it is advisable to increase the calorie requirement through sports or physical work. Between meals, healthy snacks as well as mustard help stimulate appetite and digestion. Raw food or sour cucumbers, as well as gentian, also stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and guarantee a longer-lasting satiety thanks to the vitamins it contains. Spices such as ginger or cinnamon are also considered to be appetizing and should be taken with food, similar to hops or coriander tea.
Anyone who does not feel an appetite due to a nervous stomach, the digestive juices with a tea from yarrow or chamomile flow. In addition, general measures help: a change in eating habits, regular and smaller meals, and the avoidance of stress and overstrain. In addition, should be dispensed with alcohol, cigarettes and other, often appetite-reducing stimulants until the normal appetite is restored.
Other measures, such as a change or withdrawal of medication, should be discussed in advance with the family doctor or a nutritionist. A visit to a doctor is recommended if the loss of appetite persists despite mentioned measures.
Home remedies & herbs for loss of appetite
other home remedies ↵ for appetite
- In case of anorexia and lack of appetite and flatulence, an anise infusion helps.
- Angelica tea helps with loss of appetite and catarrh or upper respiratory tract.
- Gentian helps with loss of appetite, indigestion and stomach ailments.
- In case of loss of appetite, drink a tea made from caraway and yarrow.