Reduced Appetite: Basic 9 Symptoms

Reduced Appetite

A reduced appetite happens when you have a reduced desire to eat. Also, it may be known as loss of appetite or poor appetite. The medical term which is used for this condition is anorexia. There are many different conditions that can lead to reduced appetite. They can range between mental illnesses and physical illnesses. If you develop a loss of appetite, then you may also have related symptoms, such as malnutrition or weight loss.

Reduced Appetite
Reduced Appetite

These symptoms can be serious if they are left untreated, so it is very important to find the cause for your reduced appetite and to have a good treatment. If your reduced appetite is caused by a short–term condition, then you are likely to recover naturally without any long–term effects. But, if the reduced appetite is caused by a medical condition, then this condition could worsen if you do not get the right treatment.

Reduced Appetite:


The most common symptoms of reduced appetite include:

  • Loss of taste sensation [1]
  • Depression [2]
  • Weight loss

If you leave the reduced appetite untreated, then it can be accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as

  • A general ill feeling or malaise
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue

If your reduced appetite persists and you develop malnutrition or vitamin and electrolyte deficiency, then you can have life-threatening complications. This is a reason why it is very important to seek medical help if you have a decreased appetite that does not resolve after an acute illness or that lasts longer than a few weeks. Your doctor will try to create a picture of your symptoms during your appointment. Also, your doctor will measure your weight and height and compare it to the average for the population.

Also, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and any medications that you take and for your diet as well. You should tell your doctor when your symptoms have started. Also, tell your doctor if your symptoms are mild or severe. You need to tell your doctor how much weight you have lost due to the reduced appetite. If there were any triggering events, then do not doubt to tell your doctor. Your doctor will make your test to be sure of the cause of your reduced appetite and give you the proper treatment.


There are many different causes that can lead to decreased appetite. In most cases, your appetite will return to normal when the underlying condition or reason is treated. Here are some of the most common causes for reduced appetite:


There are some medications and drugs which can reduce your appetite. They include illicit drugs (like amphetamines, heroin, and cocaine), along with prescribed medications. Some of the prescribed medications which reduce your appetite include:

  • Chemotherapy drugs [3]
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Certain antibiotics

Medical conditions

Some medical conditions can cause your appetite to decrease, such as

Physical causes

There are many different psychological causes that can lead to decreased appetite. There are many older adults who lose their appetites, but experts are not sure why it this happening [7]. Also, your appetite may tend to decrease when you are anxious, grieving, depressed, or sad. Stress and boredom are also linked to decreased appetite. Some eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa, can lead to decreased appetite overall. The person who suffers from anorexia nervosa undergoes self–starvation or other methods to lose weight. People, who suffer from this condition, are typically underweight and they have a fear of gaining weight. Also, anorexia nervosa can cause malnutrition.

Bacteria and viruses

It is known that the loss of appetite can be caused by fungal, viral, bacterial, or other infections at any location. Here are the most common causes for reduced appetite [8]:

  • Meningitis
  • A skin infection
  • Colitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pneumonia
  • An upper respiratory infection

When you have proper treatment, then your appetite will return to normal.


[1] Risso D, Drayna D, Morini G. Alteration, reduction and taste loss: Main causes and potential implications on dietary habits. Nutrients. 2020;12(11):3284.

[2] Simmons K, Burrows K, Avery JA, et al. Depression-related increases and decreases in appetite reveal dissociable patterns of aberrant activity in reward and interoceptive neurocircuitry. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016;173(4):418–28. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15020162

[3] Marinho EdC, Custodio IDD, Ferreira IB, et al. Impact of chemotherapy on perceptions related to food intake in women with breast cancer: A prospective study. PLoS One. 2017;12(11):e0187573. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187573

[4] de Pee S, Semba RD. Role of nutrition in HIV infection: review of evidence for more effective programming in resource-limited settings. Food Nutrition Bulletin. 2010;31(4):S313-44.

[5] Musialik J, Suchecka W, Klimacka-Nawrot E, et al. Taste and appetite disorders of chronic hepatitis C patients. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2012;24(12):1400-5. doi:10.1097/MEG.0b013e3283589f63

[6] Mak RH, Ikizler AT, Kovesdy CP, et al. Wasting in chronic kidney disease. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. 2011;2(1):9–25. doi:10.1007/s13539-011-0019-5

[7] Pilgrim A, Robinson S, Sayer AA, Roberts H. An overview of appetite decline in older people. Nursing Older People. 2015;27(5):29–35. doi:10.7748/nop.27.5.29.e697

[8] Kashef Z. Listening to the body: Study examines the effects of fasting on infections. Yale News. 2016. Retrieved from


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