Cancel
Nearby: Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
guy eating at airport

Poor Appetite

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is poor appetite?

Poor appetite is a common symptom of advanced age, cancer (especially of the colon, ovary or pancreas), chronic disease, or medication side effects. The first trimester of pregnancy is commonly associated with poor appetite that may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The medical term for poor appetite is anorexia. Poor appetite results from a decrease in the desire to eat. It may occur in conditions affecting the digestive system or along with more generalized conditions, such as infection, dehydration, or chronic disease.

Medications, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and narcotics, are common causes of poor appetite. Chronic diseases, including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), hepatitis, and kidney failure, can all lead to poor appetite. Changes to the sensations of smell or taste can result in poor appetite. Depending on the cause, poor appetite can come and go or be constant.

Looking for a Doctor?

Find a Cancer Specialist Near You

Poor appetite rarely leads to a life-threatening condition. However, poor appetite can be associated with dehydration that, left untreated, can result in electrolyte imbalance, shock, or coma. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, cold skin, or reduced urine output.

Types of Breast Cancer and What They Mean

There are many different types of breast cancer, but a few are more common than others.

If your poor appetite is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 7, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Appetite - decreased. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003121.htm
  2. Poor Appetite. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/eating-problems/poor-appetite.html
  3. Collins RD. Differential Diagnosis in Primary Care, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2012.
  4. Ferri FF. Ferri’s Differential Diagnosis, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2011.

You Might Also Like

10 Things Doctors Want You to Know About Lung Cancer

Doctors say there are many promising new therapies today that are revolutionizing how they attack lung cancer.

What is Immunotherapy and How Does It Fight Cancer?

Immunotherapy is a group of treatments that help your immune system find and fight cancer.

Share via Email

NEXT ARTICLE:

Lung Cancer By the Numbers

Up Next

Lung Cancer By the Numbers