Anorexia (symptom)

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Ogheneochuko Ajari, MB.BS, MS [2]

Synonyms and keywords: poor appetite, loss of appetite


Anorexia (deriving from the Greek "α(ν)-" (a(n)-, a prefix that denotes absence) + "όρεξη (orexe) = appetite) is the decreased sensation of appetite. While the term in non-scientific publications is often used interchangeably with anorexia nervosa, many possible causes exist for a decreased appetite, some of which may be harmless, while others indicate a serious clinical condition, or pose a significant risk.


Life Threatening Causes

Life-threatening causes include conditions which may result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours if left untreated.

Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Congestive heart failure
Chemical / poisoning Chromotherapy, retinoid, theobromine
Dermatologic Sporotrichosis
Drug Side Effect Aciclovir, amphetamine , amphotericin B, antidepressants, aprepitant, benzodiazepine, benzylpiperazine, calcitriol, caspofungin acetate, chromotherapy, cocaine, cyclophosphamide, dextromethamphetamine, dextromethylphenidate, diacetylmorphine, diflunisal, doxycycline, enfuvirtide, febuxostat, fluconazole, fluvoxamine, gold salts, hydralazine, hydrochlorothiazide, ivermectin, ketorolac, leptoprin, methylphenidate, mifepristone, minocycline hydrochloride, mirtazapine, modafinil, moxifloxacin, naltrexone, paroxetine, pipradrol, piroxicam, probenecid,pyrazinamide, ribavirin, rifaximin, rivastigmine, siltuximab, sorafenib, St John's wort, stimulants, theobromine, topiramate, tretinoin, valaciclovir, ziconotide, zidovudine, zopiclone
Ear Nose Throat Mastoiditis
Endocrine Anorexia nervosa, binge eating, bulimia nervosa, carotenodermia, diabetic neuropathy
Environmental Acute radiation syndrome
Gastroenterologic Acute fatty liver of pregnancy, anorexia nervosa, appendicitis, binge eating, colorectal cancer, Crohn's Disease, defensive vomiting, hepatitis, hepatitis E, hymenolepiasis, hypervitaminosis D, Lábrea fever, milk-alkali syndrome, superior mesenteric artery syndrome, ulcerative colitis
Genetic Acute fatty liver of pregnancy, Crohn's Disease
Hematologic Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease Acute viral nasopharyngitis (common cold), AIDS, astroviridae, Chagas disease, community-acquired pneumonia, cryptosporidium parvum, encephalitis, hepatitis, hepatitis E, mumps, Oropouche fever, pneumonia, Pott's disease, relapsing fever, rhinovirus, COVID-19-associated anorexia
Musculoskeletal / Ortho Mastoiditis
Neurologic Chronic fatigue syndrome, craniopharyngioma, dementia, encephalitis
Nutritional / Metabolic No underlying causes
Obstetric/Gynecologic Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
Oncologic Chromotherapy, colorectal cancer, craniopharyngioma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity Acute radiation syndrome , chromotherapy, cocaine, gold salts , hypervitaminosis D, vitamin A
Psychiatric Anorexia nervosa, binge eating, borderline personality disorder, bulimia nervosa, clinical depression, defensive vomiting, dementia, depression, hangover, obsessive-compulsive disorder, opioid dependency, orthorexia nervosa, panic disorder
Pulmonary Acute viral nasopharyngitis (common cold), atypical pneumonia, community-acquired pneumonia, pneumonia
Renal / Electrolyte Chronic renal failure, diabetic neuropathy, hangover, hypercalcemia
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Chronic fatigue syndrome
Sexual AIDS
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic Chronic renal failure, diabetic neuropathy, hypercalcemia
Miscellaneous Chronic mountain sickness, high altitude

Causes in Alphabetical Order


  1. Exton MS (1997). "Infection-induced anorexia: active host defence strategy". Appetite. 29 (3): 369–83. doi:10.1006/appe.1997.0116. PMID 9468766.
  2. Murray MJ, Murray AB (1979). "Anorexia of infection as a mechanism of host defense". Am J Clin Nutr. 32 (3): 593–6. PMID 283688.

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