When you have severe abdominal pain, you may not even question whether or not you need to see a health professional. But, if you have less alarming symptoms, such as a loss of appetite, you may not be so quick to schedule an appointment.
Of course, stress or an acute viral infection may dampen your desire to eat, but a sudden loss of appetite may be a sign of a more serious health issue.
At GI Physicians Inc. in Lima, Ohio, our skilled gastroenterologist, Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and team of experts have been helping people regain and retain their health for more than two decades. We perform endoscopy procedures to find health issues before they turn into major problems.
In this blog, Dr. Kottapalli shares why you shouldn’t ignore a sudden loss of appetite.
The difference between hunger and appetite
Appetite and hunger aren’t the same thing.
Hunger is your body’s way of letting you know you’re running low on energy and it’s time to eat. Hormones trigger hunger, causing those rumblings in your stomach and your grumpiness.
Appetite refers to your desire to eat. Sure, hunger and hunger hormones may trigger your appetite, but emotions and behaviors can also influence your hankering to eat. Your appetite is why you eat dessert after a large meal. It’s also why you crave certain foods.
Though you may wish to lose your appetite every once in a while, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, a sudden loss of appetite may be a sign that something else is going on.
Reasons for a loss of appetite
Any illness may affect your appetite. However, your desire to eat should return once your illness resolves.
If you have no appetite and you’re losing weight, then it’s time to schedule an appointment to see what’s going on. Your sudden change in appetite may be a sign of colon cancer, stomach, cancer, or pancreatic cancer. It may also develop from a chronic health condition, such as kidney disease or heart failure.
A poor appetite is also a common symptom of many gastrointestinal conditions, including acid reflux, constipation, and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). It certainly wouldn’t be surprising that you didn’t want to eat if you had abdominal pain or felt nauseous regularly.
Investigating what’s affecting your appetite
We may be able to figure out what's affecting your appetite after going over your symptoms and medical history and performing a physical exam. But sometimes we need more information to confirm or rule out a cause, especially if we suspect it has something to do with your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
At our office, we perform endoscopy procedures to evaluate your GI tract and look for conditions that might be causing your symptoms. These procedures include:
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
During an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, we take a look at the upper part of your digestive system, including your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum).
We perform this procedure to look for conditions like acid reflux, peptic ulcers, esophageal or stomach cancer, and Crohn's disease.
We perform a colonoscopy to evaluate the last section of your digestive system, your large intestine. With this procedure, we look for conditions like colon polyps, diverticulosis, and ulcerative colitis. We also perform a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.
If we have concerns about a condition involving parts of your small intestine we can’t see with an upper endoscopy, we might recommend a capsule endoscopy.
For this procedure, you swallow a pill-sized camera — PillCam™ — and it takes thousands of pictures of your entire digestive tract before it painlessly exits your body through your stool.
Sudden loss of appetite, change in bowel habits, bloody stools, and unplanned weight loss are all symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. Let us help you figure out what’s causing these subtle, yet serious symptoms.
Call 419-228-2600 or book an appointment online with GI Physicians Inc. today.