We all experience a temporary loss of appetite from time to time. Whether a
traumatic event or a bad cold eliminates your desire to eat, a loss of
appetite for a few days—especially as you get older—generally isn’t
something to worry about. However, if you or someone you care about
starts to lose weight without trying, a loss of appetite might be taking its toll.
Here are five conditions that could potentially cause a loss of appetite.
1. Mental health conditions
In many cases, a loss of appetite has no physical cause.
can all lead to you losing your desire to eat—and you may not even notice
it. If a mental health condition is causing a prolonged loss of appetite
for you or a loved one, professional counseling and resources are available
If you've started taking a new medication and your appetite has changed,
take a look at the prescribing information that was included with your
medicine. Loss of appetite is a common, known side effect of many drugs,
especially opioid medications
. Failure to follow a doctor's instructions about dosing, or using opioids
illegally, may intensify side effects like appetite loss. If you think a
medicine that you’re taking is impacting your appetite, talk to your doctor
to see if changes to your dosage or frequency are necessary.
People suffering from cancer
may experience loss of appetite
among their earliest symptoms. Colon cancer, ovarian cancer, stomach
cancer, and pancreatic cancer are all notable for reducing your desire to
eat. Patient care plans often include recommendations about foods that are
tolerable during cancer treatment and strategies for fighting nausea and
encouraging healthy eating.
can cause trouble with eating. This can be due to a problem with your
thyroid glands or pregnancy. If your thyroid feels swollen, schedule an
appointment with a healthcare provider. For women in their first trimester
of pregnancy who are experiencing low appetite, make sure to tell your
obstetrician at your next appointment.
5. Chronic illnesses
People suffering from chronic illnesses, such as liver disease
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
may have less interest in eating. If you have one of these diseases, focus
on increasing your caloric intake by eating more frequently throughout the
Consider keeping a food diary for a few days if you are concerned about
your loss of appetite. Logging what you do eat can be helpful for your
healthcare provider as they try to determine a cause. You can also try to
prepare some of your favorite foods to get your appetite going.
It’s important to note that
virtually any illness (in addition to the five above) can cause lack of
appetite; sometimes there is no physical cause at all. If you’re still losing
weight and can’t figure out why, make an appointment with your physician to
ensure your loss of appetite is not indicative of a more serious condition.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is
not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician
or other medical professional. You should not use the information
contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or
disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that
you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care