What is poor appetite?

Poor appetite is a common symptom of advanced age, cancer (especially of the colon, ovary or pancreas), chronic disease, or medication side effects. The first trimester of pregnancy is commonly associated with poor appetite that may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The medical term for poor appetite is anorexia. Poor appetite results from a decrease in the desire to eat. It may occur in conditions affecting the digestive system or along with more generalized conditions, such as infection, dehydration, or chronic disease.

Medications, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and narcotics, are common causes of poor appetite. Chronic diseases, including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), hepatitis, and kidney failure, can all lead to poor appetite. Changes to the sensations of smell or taste can result in poor appetite. Depending on the cause, poor appetite can come and go or be constant.

Poor appetite rarely leads to a life-threatening condition. However, poor appetite can be associated with dehydration that, left untreated, can result in electrolyte imbalance, shock, or coma. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, cold skin, or reduced urine output.

If your poor appetite is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with poor appetite?

Poor appetite may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems.

Digestive system symptoms that may occur along with poor appetite

Poor appetite may accompany other symptoms affecting the digestive system including:

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What causes poor appetite?

Poor appetite results from a decrease in the desire to eat and is commonly seen in the elderly, whose daily caloric demand decreases with reduced physical activity. Those with cognitive impairment forget to prepare meals. It is not always clear why anorexia occurs but may be due in part to negative emotions, such as anxie... Read more about poor appetitecauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Cancer, Digestive System