Anorexia is a symptom used in medicine to refer, as its name implies, to loss of appetite. Although anorexia can occur at any age, this symptom is particularly related to aging.
The English name for the term “ hyporexia” is very similar to anorexia, and in practice it is difficult to distinguish between them. What happens in anorexia is the complete anorexia of the patient. Unfortunately, both cause a deterioration in health due to malnutrition or a lack of certain nutrients such as vitamins.
Anorexia affecting the elderly population is estimated to occur in about 60 percent of people over the age of 65. In fact, in the case of people over the age of 80, it seems that as many as nearly 90 percent of people who have reached this age suffer from anorexia. In this article, we will explain in more detail what causes anorexia and what the consequences can be for health.
What causes anorexia?
As we have already stated above, anorexia itself is a term used in medicine to refer to a symptom in which the patient does not feel an appetite. Anorexia naturally leads to a decrease in food intake, which is why it is often associated with weight loss and fatigue.
The problem with anorexia is that if it persists for a long time, the patient begins to suffer from a significant state of nutrient deficiency. It is very common for people with anorexia to have low levels of various vitamins and they may also suffer from iron deficiency, or anemia.
While it is true that energy needs decrease with age, this is not the only cause of anorexia. Loss of appetite is also often associated with psychological problems such as stress or depression.
Similarly, many experts believe that anorexia occurs especially in the elderly population due to the fact that sensory sensitivity also decreases with age. In other words, if the sense of smell or taste is impaired, these changes are also reflected in a person’s appetite.
Other situations that can lead to anorexia are some diseases, both acute and chronic. In addition, it is very common in older people to find cases where tumors or digestive-related pathologies have a direct effect on loss of appetite.
Other common causes
The truth is that appetite is affected by many factors in our lives. In the elderly population, anorexia is also associated with various life situations, such as being hospitalized, moving into a nursing home, lack of care, or loneliness.
It should also be noted that certain medications can cause anorexia. Examples of anorexia drugs include codeine or morphine. Drugs used in chemotherapy also cause anorexia.
Nor can we forget that it is very common among the elderly population for a person to have dental problems. Any pathology in the teeth or dry mouth, which also increases over time, can affect eating and appetite. In addition, giving up some foods or the inability to chew and swallow solid foods can also lead to an elderly person’s anorexia.
What are the consequences of anorexia?
Anorexia and eating less and less can lead to malnutrition. In the elderly population, this malnutrition usually occurs slowly and gradually, making it difficult to detect the condition.
The muscle mass of an undernourished person decreases. There is less strength and the feeling of fatigue increases. In addition, food is directly related to human health and the immune system.
In this way, anorexia can cause that if a person with malnutrition already has diseases below, the symptoms of the disease will worsen. Therefore, it is very important that anorexia is detected in time and treatment is established as soon as possible. The ideal would, of course, be to change the patient’s eating habits.
It is recommended that you add more smaller meals a day to your diet, but which also contain more calories. In addition, a person suffering from anorexia should try to choose foods that the patient likes and that prolong the duration of meals without disturbance. If these procedures fail, the patient may be prescribed appetite suppressants as prescribed by the physician.
Whatever the situation, the most important thing is that when anorexia and, in particular, the quality of life and the state of life deteriorate, the patient or the person caring for him or her always turns to the doctor first. In this way, the doctor is able to assess the severity of the situation and recommend concrete measures based on the individual situation of each patient.