The Midweek Sun



Food provides energy, which we need to stay healthy and perform day-to-day activities. But there are times when one doesn’t feel like eating. “Also known as poor appetite, appetite loss is when you have a reduced desire to eat. It can be accompanie­d by other symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and nausea,” explains Dr Olekantse Kakabe.

It can also be short-term or longterm.

Temporary loss of appetite can be due to multiple reasons. However, persistent­ly low appetite can be because of an underlying health issue. There are many reasons why you might not feel very hungry, even when your body needs to eat according to Dr kakabe.

Some are medical. “Infections , chronic conditions and other ailments that can impact hunger include cold, flu, cough, or a viral infection. Respirator­y problems, sinus, and nasal congestion can interfere with the smell and taste, reducing appetite. A long history of joint or muscle pain due to arthritis or fibromyalg­ia can impact physical and mental health, leading to poor appetite. Chronic medical conditions that can lead to appetite loss include irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroi­dism, nutritiona­l deficienci­es (zinc deficiency), hepatitis, HIV, kidney and liver disease, and certain cancers.

“Appetite loss can also be a side effect of some medication­s.For example, appetite loss is a common side effect of chemothera­py drugs used to treat cancer. Other medication­s linked to appetite loss include some antibiotic­s and sedatives.In most cases, the temporary appetite loss caused by medication will disappear once the person stops taking the drug,” shared Dr kakabe.

He further explains that during stressful events, the central nervous system releases hormones that can slow digestion, affecting appetite. “People with chronic anxiety and depression can experience long-term nausea, suppressin­g their desire to eat”,he stated.

According to Dr Kakabe,appetite loss and aversion during pregnancy is also quite common and expected. “Some women find that they are constantly hungry, while others cannot stomach food at all. Foods that were once favourites may now cause nausea, and smells that were once innocuous can now trigger vomiting.Hormonal shifts cause these changes and usually subside as the pregnancy progresses”.

In the long term, appetite loss can cause more severe problems such as malnutriti­on. Malnutriti­on is a condition that occurs when the body does not get enough of certain nutrients. This can cause a wide range of health problems, including weight loss, weakness and dizziness.

For those struggling with a loss of appetite, he advises avoiding eating alone, eating small meals more often throughout the day. “This can help your body to absorb better the nutrients it needs. Second, make sure to eat foods that are high in nutrients. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Third, prepare your favourite meals. It is also very important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids can help to keep your body functionin­g correctly and can also help to prevent dehydratio­n.

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