A healthy appetite can serve as a positive sign of wellness. Numerous factors can contribute to loss of appetite, such as emotional disturbances, mild illness or serious health problems. Appetite can also be reduced as a side effect of certain medications or medical treatments. If you experience lack of appetite that persists longer than several days, seek prompt guidance from your doctor.
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Treatment of Underlying Condition
Loss of appetite can occur as a symptom of a condition, such as depression, appendicitis, thyroid problems, infections and certain forms of cancer. Appendicitis may require surgery, while depression may require psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication. Once infections are treated with antibiotics, appetite and health generally resume normally. Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy may cause further reduction in appetite. When loss of appetite leads to poor nutrition, particularly for people fighting serious diseases, nutrient supplementation or nutrients supplied intravenously may be required.
If stress, grief, heartbreak or other emotional problems cause loss of appetite, managing the root cause is significant. General stresses may be remedied through relaxation techniques such as massage, medication or exercise. When emotional factors are severe or persistent, individual counseling or a doctor's guidance is recommended.
Scheduled Eating Times
If a person's body has grown accustomed to undereating due to loss of appetite or other factors, it must regain the physical and emotional desire to eat. By reminding the body to eat close to the same time every day, hunger may reoccur naturally. The Mayo Clinic suggests setting a routine eating schedule and sticking to it, whether you are hungry at that time or not. Even small amount of foods consumed at appropriate times may prove beneficial if skipping meals has become habitual.
Fluid intake can fill you up and reduce your appetite for solid food. To prevent this from occurring, fluids can be limited during and between meals. Hydration is important, however, so fluids should not be omitted entirely. Sipping fluids rather than gulping them and enjoying beverages after a meal may help. If a person has difficulty tolerating solid food, fluids should be limited to nutritious, calorie-dense fluids, such as vitamin-fortified protein shakes, oatmeal made with whole milk or cream, and cream-based soups.
Pleasant Eating Environment
A pleasant eating environment can enhance relaxation and improve your appetite and eating habits. Your dining details might include lit candles, soft music and decor in a person's favorite color scheme as well as no television or radio. A pleasurable dining experience can also include comforting or enticing aromas, such as cinnamon-spiced apples or other scents that a person enjoys.
Medications such as megestrol, brand name Megace, and dronabinol, brand name Marinol, may be prescribed to help stimulate a person's appetite. For people who experience appetite loss due to nausea, promethazine, brand name Phenergan; prochlorperazine, brand name Compazine; or ondansetron, brand name Zofran, may help. Appetite-stimulating medications come with various side effects and benefits and should only be used as directed and prescribed by a trusted doctor.