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Alternative NamesLoss of appetite; Decreased appetite
Definition Return to top
Appetite is the desire to eat. A decreased appetite is when you have a reduced desire to eat. This occurs despite the body's basic caloric (energy) needs.
Considerations Return to top
Any illness can affect a previously hearty appetite. If the illness is treatable, the appetite should return when the condition is cured.
Loss of appetite can cause unintentional weight loss.
Depression in the elderly is a common cause of weight loss that is not explained by other factors.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Increase protein and calorie intake by eating high-calorie, nutritious snacks or several small meals during the day. Liquid protein drinks may be helpful.
Family members should try to supply favorite foods to help stimulate the person's appetite.
Keep a record of what you eat and drink for 24 hours. This is called a diet history.
If a person with anorexia nervosa consistently exaggerates food intake, someone else should keep strict calorie and nutrient counts.
For loss of appetite caused by taking medications, ask your health care provider about changing the dosage or drug. Never stop taking medications without first talking to your health care provider.
See also: Weight management
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you are losing a lot of weight without trying.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and will check your height and weight. Your diet and medical history will be reviewed. The doctor wll ask questions about your decreased appetite, including:
Tests that may be done to determine the cause of a decreased appetite may include:
In cases of severe malnutrition, nutrients are given through a vein (intravenously). This may require a hospital stay.Update Date: 7/22/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.