Fatigue and Loss of Appetite: Causes and Treatment

There are periods in everyone’s life when their levels of fatigue exceed what is considered normal, and may begin to impact normal day-to-day activities. To make matters worse, often times this chronic fatigue is accompanied by the loss of appetite, which inadvertently feeds into worsening the relative fatigue felt, as if you’re not eating enough, your energy levels always feel subpar.

As adults, many people come to just accept it for what it is, even though investigating the root causes is always a good idea. If symptoms manifest in children, however, medical investigation should be a priority, since we all know that kids are hyperactive balls of energy, and anything not indicative as such, could indicate an underlying problem.

Below, you will find the most common causes of fatigue and loss of appetite, and what you could do at home or in conjunction with your medical professional to alleviate the symptoms.

Causes of Fatigue and Loss of Appetite

Even though fatigue and loss of appetite may initially appear quite harmless, and not a cause for worry, if it persists for several days or even longer, it is important for you to try and determine what the root causes are.

Several conditions can contribute to the prevalence of symptoms, while others may be related to lifestyle traits and habits. Common causes include:


Sleep deprivation does no favors for your body, and may first manifest in the form of you always feeling fatigued. Loss of appetite tends to appear afterward, as disruptions to your circadian rhythm and neurotransmitter levels end up having an adverse effect on your appetite.

Adrenal Fatigue

Though not recognized as a true medical condition, many people experience symptoms relating to over stimulation of the adrenal glands, leading to an acute dampening of the stress response. To put this into perspective, the adrenal glands produce both cortisol and adrenaline, which are important coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

Chronic fatigue causes excessive stimulation and production of these hormones, which over time will lead to desensitization. Thus, the getup and go normally initiated via the release of these hormones is suppressed, and you end up feeling groggy all the time.

Loss of appetite later ensues as your metabolic rate decreases as well.

Damage To The Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, innervating the entire length of the spinal column. The vagus nerve is what sends signals to the brain that we have eaten enough, allowing us to maintain a reasonable level of nutrition.

Medical conditions such as diabetes are notorious for causing damage to nerves, with the vagus of being no exception. As damage to this nerve worsens, eventually that individual is unable to detect if they’ve had enough to eat, and in many cases experience suppressed hunger response. If you don’t feel hungry, naturally the urge to eat will be lost.

The vagus nerve also plays a key role in the regulation of adrenal function, which can be experienced when you feel butterflies in your stomach. This is actually the nerve relating anxiety or fear to your brain, which in turn signals for the adrenal glands to increase production of adrenaline and cortisol. Loss of this reflex will lead to fatigue as your body is incapable of dealing with stressors.


While Pregnancy should be considered a true miracle, there is nothing miraculous about what a woman has to go through during those nine months. Fatigue is very common, as a result of the extra 20, 30 or even more pounds that she has to carry around all the time.

Loss of appetite is also common as nausea takes over during the first trimester, and compression of the vagus nerve, but sciatica also contributes to chronic fatigue as a result of the pain experienced.

Depressive Illness

Depression is a major health concern throughout the world, though many people underestimate the impact it can have on society as a whole. A depressed individual not only displays chronic fatigue, but the loss of appetite, drive, and pleasure with life are all common accompaniments.

The neurotransmitter serotonin, which is typically reduced in the brain of people with depression, plays key roles in regulating sleep, appetite, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which help with your ability to get motivated and accomplishing things.


Anemia occurs when the oxygen-carrying potential of red blood cells is decreased owing usually to a low density of these cells. In turn, if oxygen and nutrients are not supplied as generously as needed, energy levels plummet in response.

Anemia’s relation to the loss of appetite is less well defined, but may also relate to the metabolic demands necessary for processing of food. A large majority of metabolic processes rely on oxygen delivery to be accomplished, so any condition that limits its delivery will affect system-wide functions.


Acute bacterial or viral illness takes a toll on the body as the immune system is activated to try and neutralize the pathogenic threat. Fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite all manifest during acute illness.

Though these effects should be short-lived, in rare cases, it can persist for a long time and require specialist medical intervention to rectify.

Treatment of Fatigue and Loss of Appetite

An effective outcome from treatment depends on the proper identification of what is causing symptoms in the first place. While it is possible to employ an empirical approach, this usually mandates usage of a wide range of techniques and medications, many of which are redundant or totally unnecessary.

Common approaches to the treatment of fatigue and loss of appetite include:


Exercise is probably not the first thing to come to mind when you are feeling fatigued, or don’t want to eat, but if initiated slowly and gradually increased, can help remedy both.

For one, exercise is a great way to increase levels of endorphins, which are feel-good neurotransmitters/hormones produced by the brain that help to counter the acute effects of inflammation, instead improving your mood and enhancing your sense of well-being.

Exercise also positively enhances your appetite, as recovery and protein synthesis sends signals to the body for you to increase the consumption of food.

Scheduling Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your entire body. One of the only proven ways to reverse these effects is to get more sleep. Create a work and sleep schedule for one month and religiously stick to it. You should see improvements to your symptoms during that time.

Management Of The Underlying Condition

These conditions can include depression, diabetes, heart disease or more, all of which adversely affect your energy levels and may suppress your appetite. Taking medication prescribed by a physician is an important step in fighting the symptoms, and getting your life back to being as normal as possible.

Use Flexible Nutrition

If you’re finding it hard to consume solid food, it is not out of the question to use meal replacement shakes instead. Doing so will ensure that your appetite suppression does not become chronic, and energy levels are not significantly impacted.

Conditions such as pregnancy are especially notorious for causing you trouble when eating food, especially during the morning hours, so be sure to fortify calories later in the day if that happens.

Fatigue and Loss of Appetite – Summary

Fatigue and loss of appetite usually go hand-in-hand, simply because if you’re not eating enough, you will always feel tired. Be sure to manage comorbidities that may be contributing to symptoms, and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider to overcome obstacles.



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