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Poor appetite and excessive sleeping may indicate a serious medical problem.
Tom Le Goff/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Every once in a while, people find it tough to get out of bed and notice a drop in appetite. If you are constantly sleeping and not hungry on a regular basis, though, a medical condition may be the cause. Mental health disorders, certain cancers, chronic kidney disease, infections and other medical problems can affect your sleep patterns and appetite. Talking with your doctor about your symptoms can help determine whether something serious is to blame.
Mental Health Disorders
Depression not only affects mood, but it also commonly affects sleep and eating habits. While some people with depression have trouble sleeping, many experience intense fatigue and have trouble getting out of bed. According to American Psychiatric Association guidelines, changes in sleeping and eating patterns are some of the symptoms used to diagnose clinical depression. Dementia, a condition characterized by problems with thinking and memory, can also lead to excessive sleeping and poor appetite. Depression occurs frequently in people with dementia and may worsen symptoms. If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of depression or has suicidal thoughts, seek immediate medical attention.
Poor Organ Function
Excessive sleeping and lack of appetite sometimes reflect a chronic disorder of the heart, liver or kidneys. Chronic kidney disease, in particular, often goes undiagnosed and affects more than 20 million adults in the U.S., reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with advanced kidney disease may notice nausea and a metallic taste in their mouth that blunts appetite. Anemia, or low levels of red blood cells, typically accompanies chronic kidney disease and contributes to fatigue. People with kidney disease often also have underlying heart and liver problems. Advanced heart failure and liver disease themselves can cause chronic fatigue and decreased appetite.
Certain types of cancer lead to profound fatigue and also curb appetite. Cancers that affect the digestive tract are especially likely to cause these symptoms. The author of an October 2004 review article in the journal "Proceedings" notes that tumors in the stomach initially tend to cause vague symptoms, including stomach discomfort and poor appetite. Stomach cancer also results in anemia, which can lead to fatigue and a constant desire to sleep. Pancreatic, liver and ovarian cancers can also lead to debilitating fatigue and poor appetite.
Symptoms of the flu include fatigue and lack of appetite. Flu symptoms, however, tend to pass within a couple of days. Persistent flu-like symptoms could indicate another condition, such as mononucleosis. Mononucleosis is caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus and initially causes fever, sore throat and swollen glands. People who have recently contracted HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, may experience intense fatigue and poor appetite. In addition to fever and sore throat, they may also develop a rash and muscle aches. Other viral infections, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C, commonly lead to poor appetite and chronic fatigue.