- Unexplained weight loss is a noticeable drop in body weight that happen even if the person is not trying to lose weight.
- An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more within six to 12 months must be examined by a doctor.
- Cancer, diabetes, dental problems, depression, and other mental disorders are some most common causes of unexplained weight loss.
- Unexplained weight loss can occur in anyone. But it is most common and severe in people over the age of 65.
- Treatment involves identifying the underlying causes of weight loss and treating the root of the problem.
What Are the Cause of Unexplained Weight Loss?
Unexplained weight loss can be caused by conditions that range from mild to severe. These
causes can be physical and psychological, such as:
|Causes||How It Affects Weight Loss|
|Cancer||Unexplained weight loss may be the initial sign of blood-related cancers and solid tumors such as lung cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Weight loss can also occur when an early-stage tumor comes back.|
|Diabetes||Diabetic people fall into Type 1 (an autoimmune disease) and Type 2, which develop when the body can't process or make insulin. Unexplained weight loss can occur in both types but is more common in Type 1.|
|Muscle Loss||Unexplained weight loss can occur due to the loss of heavy muscle tissue, called muscle wasting or muscle atrophy. It happens in people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and cancer.|
|Hyperthyroidism||Hyperthyroidism develops when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone that controls metabolism. In the case of overactive thyroid, you will burn calories even if you have a good appetite. It can lead to unintentional weight loss.|
|Depression||Depression can affect your eating habits that cause weight gain or weight loss. It affects people of all age groups, and approximately one in every six people experience depression at some point in their lifetime.|
|Rheumatoid Arthritis||Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain and damage and can bring on muscle wasting and weight loss called rheumatoid cachexia. RA may be associated with the inflammation of the digestive system that contributes to unexplained weight loss.|
Some other causes of unexplained weight loss are hypothyroidism, infections, heart failure, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking, oral concerns, drug abuse, medications, neurological conditions, and eating disorders.
When to See Your Healthcare Provider?
Many conditions that cause unexplained weight loss are difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Sometimes X-rays or blood tests are required to identify the causes. However, it is imperious to consult your healthcare provider if you're losing 5% to 10% weight without trying. Continue to ask the reasons from your healthcare provider until you have the answer, and don't hesitate to ask for a second opinion if needed.
How is Unexplained Weight Loss Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will conduct a physical examination to diagnose unexplained weight loss and may ask some questions, such as:
- How much weight you have lost?
- Are you on any medication?
- Is your exercising excessively?
- Have you been recently sick?
- Do you have any people with swallowing?
- Are you feeling tired more often?
- Have your eating habits changed?
- Are you depressed?
- Do you have increased thirst?
How is Unexplained Weight Loss Treated?
Unexplained weight loss is treated by finding the underlying conditions causing the weight loss. Some causes of unexplained weight loss are uncommon, and this may need several visits to determine a cause.
What’s imperative is that the unexplained weight loss is treated, too. When the blood tests, imaging tests, and other procedures lead to a specific cause, it's easy to focus on treatment. Make sure to see your healthcare provider about how you should treat the unexplained weight loss.
For people who are diagnosed with cancer, a palliative care consultation is needed. The palliative care team addresses concerns not only relevant to cancer but unexplained weight loss as well.
If you’re experiencing unexplained weight loss symptoms and do not want to go out, we suggest you see a doctor online. You can discuss prescriptions, renew them, better understand your conditions and medications, or discuss anything else related to your condition.
If you want to talk to a doctor online right now or set up a virtual doctor appointment, click down below.
Any number of weight loss without trying is a potential concern. You should worry and talk to a doctor if you lose more than 10 pounds or 5% of your body weight within a six to 12-month duration – especially if you’re 65 and older.
Unexplained weight loss is often the first symptom of stomach, lung, pancreas, and esophagus cancer. Ovarian cancer also causes unexplained weight loss when a tumor grows large enough to press the stomach.
Unexplained weight loss has different causes. It might be caused by a stressful event such as losing a job, divorce, or the death of a loved one. It can also be caused by malnutrition, a health condition, or a combination of two.
If you’re losing weight but eating normally, you may have cachexia. Your body may not absorb all the fat, protein, and carbohydrates from the food you eat. In cachexia, you may be burning up calories faster than normal situation.
Unexplained weight loss isn’t common, but it often occurs in older adults over 65. It affects thousands of people every year and should not overlook.
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