Appetite is the emotional expression of the needs of the body and the desire of a person to take food. Its decrease is a partial or complete refusal of food. In medicine, the concepts of appetite and hunger are distinguished. The feeling of hunger is a reflex that occurs in the absence of food intake in the body. The centers of hunger, which are located in the cerebral cortex, are excited, and serve as a kind of signal. Signs of hunger: salivation, heightened sense of smell, pulling sensation under the tongue and in the stomach. Appetite is a more selective manifestation of the feeling of hunger that arises from the choice of a particular product. The choice may depend on the mood of the person, his religious views and the time of day.
Changes in appetite can be manifested by a decrease in appetite, a change in taste needs, or its absence.
Causes of loss of appetite
If insulin levels decrease in a person, appetite increases. The hormone leptin, which is found in adipose tissue, in large quantities can lead to weight gain. If a person is starving, the level of this hormone decreases, fat is broken down and a feeling of hunger appears.
Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the lining of the stomach and intestines when a person is hungry. It informs the central nervous system that the gastrointestinal tract is ready to eat. The higher the level of ghrelin in the blood, the more a person wants to eat. After eating, the concentration of ghrelin in the blood decreases.
There are also a huge number of hormones that are involved in the regulation of food requirements. The most common cause of loss of appetite is the presence of diseases. A well-known example is anorexia nervosa. In this case, patients refuse to eat and completely deplete their own body. Studies have shown that with anorexia, almost all parts of the mechanism that regulates appetite suffer. It is for this reason that anorexia is difficult to cure.
There are a number of other diseases that are associated with impaired appetite regulation: psychogenic vomiting, overeating, bulimia.
Decreased appetite can be influenced by a number of factors that are not always associated with any disease:
- stressful situations, depression ;
- medical intervention;
- eating environment;
- physiological changes;
- quality of food consumed;
- alcohol and drugs.
Symptoms of reduced appetite
A person may not eat for a whole day and not feel hungry. One apple or a glass of yogurt may be enough for him. In addition, the weight begins to decrease noticeably. In this regard, a person becomes less hardy, and hormonal failure also occurs. There is also practically no taste sensation, the food seems unattractive and tasteless.
Loss of appetite in children
Lack of appetite in children is quite common. The reason may be frequent snacking of sweets, cookies, milk and other sweets between main meals. In addition, it may be associated with psycho-emotional problems. You should not worry about this problem in advance if the child does not have violations in weight, height and general activity. If there is a reason, you should consult a pediatrician and undergo the necessary examination.
Diagnosis and treatment
Determining the causes of loss of appetite can be quite difficult, since there are no specific criteria for this. In order to correctly assess the situation, the doctor must compare all the individual characteristics of a person: gender, age, occupation, bad habits, hormonal status and the presence of sports.
Older people can cope with hunger more easily and maintain a feeling of satiety. Those who exercise intensively feel hungry more often and are not always satisfied with their food intake. This criterion is important to consider.
It is also important to understand that a person does not always pay attention to the fact that he has lost his appetite. This is especially true for those patients who have depression, stress or other psychological problems.
In such cases, problems with appetite are noticed by close friends and relatives. To objectively assess appetite, experts use questionnaires and a questionnaire. There are also pronounced symptoms of the underlying disease: fever, pain, diarrhea. They imply the absence of the need for food intake. In this case, the diagnosis of appetite disorders is not required, since all the symptoms do not allow you to miss a serious illness.
Another problem is pathology. In this case, a decrease or lack of appetite is the only symptom that signals the disease. If you do not correctly assess the problem and do not address it in time, you can get more serious complications.
Treatment should be carried out by a specialist, who, first of all, should eliminate the underlying disease. If it is incurable, then the main task is to alleviate its symptoms. To understand which doctor should treat, you need to determine the type of disease and its localization. It can be a therapist who will prescribe tests, an oncologist, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, an endocrinologist, cardiologist. If symptoms are detected that signal the exhaustion of the body, then it is necessary to contact the above specialists.
It is important to understand that the presence of any problems with appetite is the first bell. Do not risk your own health and self-medicate. If you consult a doctor in time, you can avoid many unpleasant consequences.