Though most people deal with cravings and an overwhelming urge to eat, the loss of appetite can be an even bigger issue. When your body stops wanting food and you’re unable to eat, then you may experience other symptoms like fatigue, low-grade fevers, and general malaise.
Some common things, like anxiety and depression, can play games with your appetite. Thankfully, these issues are usually temporary, and with proper medication and therapy, your appetite will return.
Reasons Why You Have a Loss of Appetite
Sadly, if you’ve gone for several days without eating, then you need to see a doctor. The longer you go without nourishment, the weaker your body will become. Here are the most common reasons why you aren’t hungry.
Stress does funny things to the body. One person will become so emotional due to the ongoing angst that they want to eat all the time. However, another person may be so overwhelmed with life that they can’t eat a bite.
When your body is experiencing the fight-or-flight response from hormone releases like adrenaline and cortisol, it can cause a loss of appetite. Your digestive system slows when your heart beats faster from the overabundance of these hormones in the body.
Now, you should know that if you’re under prolonged periods of stress, then you could experience cravings for sweets and intense hunger. Just be advised that your appetite can be affected in either direction when you’re under constant tension, and it can shift back and forth too.
Some medications will cause a loss of appetite, specifically antidepressants. While in some cases, you welcome a reprieve from constant hunger, in other cases, it becomes severe, and people can go for days without food. Other prescriptions, such as those to treat diabetes, can also cause you to feel nauseated at the very mention of anything edible.
Thankfully, it’s typically easy enough for your doctor to switch you to another type of drug to see if the side effect subsides.
3. You’re Coming Down with Something
When your body is fighting off an illness, your immune system will release a chemical known as cytokines. The purpose of this chemical is to make you sleep so that you will rest and heal. As you know, your immune system does its best work when you’re asleep.
This chemical will also stop your hunger signals, as your body is trying to tell you that nothing is more important at this moment than sleep.
4. You’re Pregnant
Could you be pregnant and not know it? Pregnancy causes all sorts of hormonal changes within the body. One of the most common changes you will experience will be your appetite.
One minute you may be eating pickles and peanut butter, and the next minute the smell of coffee makes you want to vomit. The loss of appetite can be caused by nausea or other hormonal fluctuations present when you’re expecting a baby.
During the winter season, stomach bugs like gastroenteritis are commonplace. If you’re experiencing cramping, nausea, and an upset stomach, then you can also have a loss of appetite. When your stomach is churning in knots, the last thing you want to think about is eating anything.
6. Stomach and Intestinal Disorders
Many stomach disorders can mess with your appetite. The most common ones are:
•IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
When you have an overproduction of acid, then it can make your belly a cramping mess. Additionally, dealing with issues like IBS is no fun. People who have digestive and stomach related problems often find that they have a loss of appetite.
Additionally, many are sensitive to certain types of foods too. Conditions like celiac disease can cause insensitivity to foods with gluten in them, and it can appear as IBS, but it’s something different.
Your body needs healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. When your body isn’t making enough of these cells, you can experience fatigue and a loss of appetite, among other things. The exhaustion and other problems you encounter will quickly go away with a healthy regimen of vitamin B12.
8. Side Effect from Cancer/Treatments
When there’s cancer in the body, everything is in an uproar. It’s also not uncommon for a person who is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation to lose their appetite. One of the hallmarks of this condition is that people lose weight because the very sight of food makes them ill.
9. You’re Getting Older
As you age, you won’t eat nearly as much as you did in previous years. There’s no specific number where this occurs, but it usually happens over time. When you reach middle age, it’s estimated that you will eat about 30 percent less food than you did a decade before.
Diabetes I and II are both severe conditions. The overabundance or lack of insulin in the bloodstream is not something to let go untreated. One of the signs of type II diabetes is a loss of appetite.
Many people don’t even know they have it until they go to the doctor for other issues. It’s not uncommon to be symptom-free until the glucose numbers are far beyond the danger zone. However, one of the main symptoms people complain about before they get help is an unexplained weight loss or gain.
11. Thyroid Issues
Having thyroid issues can cause all sorts of problems in the body. The hormones made by this tiny gland are responsible for your bodily functions. If you aren’t making enough hormones, you won’t have any energy, and your hunger will be affected.
Many people will gain weight with thyroid issues because they aren’t burning enough calories with their sluggish nature. Thankfully, taking synthetic hormones can bring everything back to normal.
12. A Headache
Did you know that you can have a migraine headache without having the actual aching part? There is a thing called migraine syndrome, where you have light sensitivity and nausea, and hunger loss. Plus, any headache can cause you to feel sick to your stomach, where food is the last thing on your mind.
13. Brain Injury
If you’ve had a bump or fell anyway that affected your head, you could have a brain injury. A concussion is severe but often subsides without medical intervention. However, after experiencing a fall of any kind, it can cause you to feel food is unappealing.
14. Anxiety Disorders
There are more than 40 million adults in this country that struggle with some sort of anxiety disorder. Anxiety can make your stomach fill with knots, and you may not feel like eating. The most common anxiety disorders are:
•PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
•GAD or General Anxiety Disorder
Any one of these conditions can cause you to overeat or not want to eat at all. It can also shift depending on the day and the level of your anxiety.
15. Eating Disorders
There are three types of eating disorders; they are:
• Bulimia Nervosa
• Binge Eating Disorder
With anorexia and bulimia, the goal is to lose weight. When a person has anorexia, they will take diet pills, starve themselves, and still believe their body is fat. With bulimia, the person suffering from this condition will binge eat and purge what they’ve eaten.
After a period of these behaviors, the body can become accustomed to not having food, and the actions taken will mess with the hormonal triggers that tell the body it’s time to eat. In later stages of anorexia, eating may be difficult, if not impossible, for some people. Sadly, many are put on feeding tubes to get quick nourishment, but the damage is too much for the heart and other organs to take.
Binge eating disorder is a different problem. Most of the people in this category can’t stop eating, even if they’re full. They will eat enough for 2-3 people in one setting. All three are serious issues, but an eating disorder can mess with your appetite in negative ways.
Final Thoughts on Appetite Loss
The body is an intricate system that needs each hormone and an electrical impulse to function correctly. When something is off-kilter on the inside, it can cause all sorts of issues, affecting your appetite. The body can live about 1-2 months without food, and a little longer if you’re getting sufficient water when you can’t eat.
With so many people struggling with weight loss in this country, it seems complicated that a loss of appetite could be such a significant issue. Still, not getting enough food can be just as dangerous as overeating. If you have any problems that prevent you from getting the nourishment you need, then you need to seek medical help.