Loss of appetite can indicate these 5 serious health issues | Health

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A good appetite is considered a sign of well-being. So, it’s normal to worry when you don’t feel like eating for days. Reduction in appetite could also be due to increase or decrease in your levels of activity or because of a significant event in your life or an illness. Like, one tends to lose their appetite or even sleep ahead of an exciting or important event. That’s temporary and your appetite returns to normal after the event. However, if you have lost your appetite for quite some time without any reason, it is a cause of concern. Especially if it’s prolonged, there may be underlying reasons behind your disinterest in eating. An eating disorder, a mental health issue, thyroid problem or cancer in rare cases could be responsible for your diminished appetite. (Also read | How working night shifts messes up appetite and food habits, study reveals)

Appetite loss is a prevalent concern faced by many individuals at some point in their lives, often dismissed as a fleeting issue. However, it may signify more than a passing phase(Freepik)
Appetite loss is a prevalent concern faced by many individuals at some point in their lives, often dismissed as a fleeting issue. However, it may signify more than a passing phase(Freepik)

“Appetite loss is a prevalent concern faced by many individuals at some point in their lives, often dismissed as a fleeting issue. However, it may signify more than a passing phase, with recent research indicating a persistent lack of interest in food could be a potential indicator of serious underlying health conditions,” says Dr Rajesh Kumar Budhiraja, Associate Director – Internal Medicine, Asian Hospital Faridabad.

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Dr Budhiraja shares the potential risks associated with a diminished appetite and sheds light on the grave diseases that may be correlated with this seemingly innocuous symptom.

1. Gastrointestinal challenges

A sudden decrease in appetite may be attributed to gastrointestinal issues. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastritis, and peptic ulcers can affect the digestive tract, causing pain and a reduced appetite. Swift attention to these matters is imperative to prevent further complications.

2. Thyroid malfunction

An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can contribute to a diminished appetite. The thyroid gland’s crucial role in regulating metabolism means any imbalance can result in various symptoms, including loss of appetite. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for effective management of thyroid disorders.

3. Mental well-being

The intricate link between mental health and physical well-being is evident, with conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress manifesting in physical symptoms, including a reduced appetite. Recognizing this connection is vital for addressing the root cause and seeking appropriate support.

4. Persistent infections

Long-term infections, such as tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS, can also lead to appetite loss. The body’s immune response to these infections can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, underscoring the need to identify and treat the underlying infection promptly.

5. Cancer alert

While caution is advised against premature conclusions, unexplained and prolonged loss of appetite can raise concerns about certain cancers. Cancers affecting the digestive system, such as stomach or pancreatic cancer, may present with diminished interest in food as an early symptom. Regular health check-ups and screenings are crucial for early detection and treatment of cancer.

“Loss of appetite should not be dismissed lightly, as it may serve as an early warning sign of severe underlying health issues. Whether linked to gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid dysfunction, mental health conditions, chronic infections, or even cancer, seeking timely medical advice is paramount. Monitoring overall well-being and addressing persistent changes in appetite with a healthcare professional can contribute to early diagnosis and effective management of potential health risks. Remember, your body often communicates distress through subtle signals, and attentiveness to these signals is a proactive step towards maintaining optimal health,” concludes Dr Budhiraja.

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