Appetite changes are common with cancer and cancer treatment. Poor appetite has a multitude of causes, but the most likely cause lies in the digestive tract and nearby organs. Individuals with poor appetite or appetite loss may eat less than usual, not feel hungry at all, or feel full (satiated) after eating only a small amount. Appetite loss is common in people with cancer. Certain types of cancer, including ovarian, pancreatic, and stomach cancers, can cause a loss of appetite, usually by affecting a person's metabolism. Appetite loss also occurs in 80% to 90% of people with advanced cancer for various reasons, including changes in metabolism, early satiety from ascites, and other symptoms of cancer. Other causes of appetite loss include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and sedative medications (drugs that cause feelings of calm or sleepiness). It is characterized by a general feeling of not being hungry, getting full faster than normal, or feeling overwhelmed by a normal portion of food. While a reduced appetite may seem harmless, it can lead to severe weight loss, dehydration, fatigue, poor immune function, and malnutrition.
Loss of appetite may be caused by teeth and gum problems, such as periodontal disease or a fractured tooth, which can make chewing painful. Appetite problems can come in different ways and some other physical symptoms of a malfunctioning appetite include the presence of abdominal bloating, persistent indigestion and constipation - sensations of nausea or pain can also be felt if the appetite is affected in some cases. It is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment, and can have serious consequences. Loss of appetite is also helped along by bad or improper eating habits displayed by the person. Some causes of appetite loss in a person include eating sweets and drinking soft drinks between meals, the consumption of large and heavy meals which are rich in saturated fats at odd times. Additional treatment for appetite loss may include appetite-stimulating medications, medications that help food move through the intestine, nutritional supplement drinks, and tube feeding (often a nasogastric tube that passes through the nose into the stomach).
Prevention of Appetite loss
- Avoid cooking strong smelling foods (such as fish or cauliflower).
- Eat several small meals daily, instead of large ones.
- Feeding through artificial means (such as a tube or IV).
- Exercising regularly can increase your appetite.
Home Remedies for Appetite loss
- Oranges are an extremely useful remedy for anorexia.
- Lime is also a valuable remedy for restoring a lost appetite. A preparation made from this fruit and ginger has been found very effective in overcoming this condition.
- Sour grapes are another effective remedy for anorexia.
- Garlic possesses a special property to stimulate the digestive tone of the system and improve appetite. A soup prepared from this vegetable can be of immense help to a patient suffering from anorexia.
- The use of ginger is valuable in the loss of appetite. About five grams of this vegetable should be ground and licked with a little salt once a day for the treatment of this condition.
- The application of an ice-bag over the stomach for half an hour before meals, and a cool hip bath once or twice daily, will go a long way in curing anorexia.