Diabetes: Loss of Appetite

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Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that interferes with the body’s ability to control the level of glucose in the blood. No matter what type of diabetes you have, symptoms develop as a result of high blood glucose levels, according to MayoClinic.com. Complications can cause a loss of appetite that lasts for more than a couple of days.

Diagnosing Symptoms

When trying to determine the cause for your loss of appetite, your health care provider may ask whether you feel nauseous, have stomach pain or vomiting or are currently taking any medications. Your doctor may also ask if your loss of appetite came on gradually or suddenly and if you've recently lost weight. Mention how long it has been since you first noticed changes in your appetite. Tell your doctor if there is a family history of diabetes. Until your appetite returns to normal, you are at risk for malnutrition and other health problems; therefore, you need to find out the underlying cause for your decrease in appetite.

Undiagnosed Diabetes

Complications can occur when diabetes goes undiagnosed for an extended length of time. Suffering a loss of appetite for a few weeks or more can lead to malnutrition, a condition where your body does not get the nutrients it needs. Aside from possible malnutrition, if left untreated, diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys and nerves. Undiagnosed diabetes can also cause circulation problems, heart attack and stroke. Although there is no cure for the disease, you can prevent complications from occurring by maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood glucose levels. Monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eating a balanced diet, being physically active and seeing your doctor regularly are additional steps you can take to help manage your diabetes.

Ketoacidosis

If hyperglycemia goes untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis is a complication that occurs when high levels of ketones build up in the blood and urine, according to University of Iowa Health Care. When your body does not produce enough insulin, the cells are unable to use glucose for fuel. As a result, the body begins breaking down fat for energy, a process, which produces ketones. Although the first symptoms of hyperglycemia can develop slowly, diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency. Symptoms include loss of appetite, significant weight loss, frequent urination and confusion. Vomiting is another sign of ketoacidosis that requires immediate medical attention as loss of consciousness and coma can occur.

Gastroparesis

Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Gastroparesis is a condition where food moves slowly down through the digestive tract. High blood glucose levels can damage the vagus nerve over time. When this occurs, the muscles of the GI tract can no longer move food easily out of the stomach into the small intestine where it continues the digestion process. Symptoms of gastroparesis include loss of appetite, weight loss, heartburn, abdominal bloating, gastroesophageal reflux, nausea and vomiting undigested food. Additional symptoms such as high or low blood glucose levels and stomach spasms can occur. The condition makes blood glucose levels more difficult to control.

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