Hyporexia: Definition, Causes, Consequences, Diagnosis and Treatment

It is the loss of appetite in older adults and children.

Appetite is associated with the need for food and this desire becomes a feeling of hunger, when this need does not occur in these age groups, we are in the presence of disease.

Causes of hyporexia

The causes of hyporexia in children and the elderly are usually different.

In the kids:

  • The intake of many bottles in the case of children over one year and the intake of large amounts of candy or small amounts of food in the time intervals between meals.
  • Presence of acute and chronic diseases of the digestive system such as gastritis, gastroenteritis, peptic ulcers, hepatitis, among others.
  • Existence of acute and chronic infectious diseases such as viral infections, bacterial infections with fever, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections and canker sores.
  • Infestation with parasites.
  • Deficiency of iron and zinc.
  • Abnormalities of metabolic type, hereditary diseases, laziness to chew.
  • Respiratory diseases that produce respiratory failure.
  • Having a disease associated with the cardiovascular system, with cardiac muscle depletion.
  • Chronic intoxication due to excessive intake of drugs, kidney failure, overdose of vitamin D in babies, contributions of toxic substances in the case of metabolic diseases, radiotherapy.
  • Endocrine disorders as changes in the activity of the endocrine glands.
  • Reasons associated with the child’s family environment, which cause the child not to want to eat.

In the case of older adults:

  • Hyporexia can be caused by a psychological problem, such as depression and anxiety .
  • It may be of a social nature, due to isolation or distance from the environment where they have remained throughout their lives.

And it can also be the manifestation of a symptom of a disease such as:

  • Presence of benign tumor lesions in the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and digestive tract.
  • Presence of cancerous tumors in the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and digestive tract.
  • Inflammations in the gastrointestinal tract such as stomatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases ( ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease ), the oesophagitis reflux, the duodenitis , gastritis, infectious anorectal inflammation, gastric and duodenal ulcers, intestinal parasites, esophagitis by reflux, duodenitis and gastritis.

Consequences of hyporexia

One of the most severe consequences of this pathology is malnutrition.

For both age groups, hyporexia triggers a loss of weight and a decrease in the ability of the immune system to attack the organisms and substances that invade our bodies, making them more prone to contracting diseases.

In the case of children, this situation produces a delay in the normal growth of the child and in the development of his intellectual capacity.


The loss of appetite requires urgent treatment, and to rule out the presence of any other disease, differential diagnoses must be made, such as complete hematology, general urinalysis, ultrasound of internal organs, among others.

The treatment and control of an underlying disease leads to the restoration of appetite.

Treatment of hyporexia

The treatment should be aimed at the intake of foods with high nutritional content.

Control calorie intake

They should be distributed in 5 or 6 meals with little volume, but including very nutritious foods in the diet.

By making this number of meals it is avoided that they get out very quickly and that they arrive at the next meal with more appetite.

Foods that are easy to eat and at adequate temperatures

The food served should not be too hot and should be easy to chew.

To achieve a higher protein intake, ground or chopped meats can be served so that they are very easy to eat.

Motivate the appetite

It is important to present foods with good presentation, so that the food looks appetizing, and foods should be included to the taste and appetite of the affected.

Eat at any time

You should not have strict hours for food, you can administer food at the time you want even if you leave the normal schedule or set for meals.

Energy and nutritious foods

To cope with the disease and avoid malnutrition, it is necessary that all foods provide nutrients and a lot of energy.

It is advisable to add whole milk, protein broths and eggs, increasing the energy value, without increasing the quantities of the rations.

For all this it is of great importance that the presentation of the dishes is attractive and includes the greatest amount of nutrients, to achieve the recovery of appetite and prevent the health of the individual is affected.