Should unexplained weight loss be a concern ?

Should unexplained weight loss be a concern ?
  • PublishedJanuary 1, 2021

Unintentional weight loss or unexplained weight loss can be a cause for concern. It might be a sign of an underlying condition.

Therefore, if you lose a significant amount of weight, let’s say more than 5 percent of your weight between 6 to 12 months, I beseech you to see the doctor as soon as immediately.

Unexplained weight loss may be instigated by medical and non-medical circumstances. It is a combination of things that results in a general decline in your health and weight loss. You may not be able to single out a specific cause.

 Why do I keep losing weight for no reason?

There are a lot of reasons as to why one may lose weight. They are; 

  1. You aren’t eating enough.

One of the most popular reasons for unexplained weight loss is consuming fewer calories.  

This is due to the fact that your body is burning more calories than you consume. On the other hand, your body may not be receiving enough nutrients required to maintain a healthy weight. You may not necessarily be hungry but your food intake may not be enough to sustain your body weight and thus leading to a reduction. 

This type of weight loss is more common in older people. Dr. Hildreth mentions “As we age, the stomach empties more slowly, which makes you feel fuller longer,”. This leads to older people eating less, losing weight, and not getting enough nutrients required to sustain their body’s demands. 

  1. Muscle loss.

Loss of muscles or muscle wasting can cause unexpected weight loss. Muscle loss can be caused by injuries such as broken bones, aging, stroke, being bedridden, nerve damage, inactivity such as work desk jobs or lack of exercise, and many other causes. 

Usually, the major symptom is muscle weakness and that part of the body experiencing muscle loss may even look smaller than the rest of the body. 

  1. It may be Diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is also another major cause of unexplained weight loss. Type 1 diabetes causes the immune system to attack cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin.  

Since the body uses insulin to breakdown carbohydrates for energy, without it the body will lack a sufficient energy source. This will force the body to burn fats and muscles for energy.  

Type 1 diabetes will also cause frequent urination, dehydration, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, fatigue, and blurry vision. All these make you lose weight unintentionally.  

Do you suspect it might be type I diabetes? Read more symptoms of type I diabetes here

  1. Depression.

While depression, stress, and anxiety can cause weight gain in some people, to others, it can cause a dramatic weight loss. Depression affects the areas of the brain that control appetite. This is the reason why people will lose appetite when sad and this will eventually lead to weight loss. 

People will also become picky in the types of food they eat, lose interest in hobbies, constant sadness, low energy, sleeping too little or too much, and poor concentration. 

  1. Cancer can also be a cause.

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. 

Even before it starts to show major symptoms, cancer can cause weight loss.  This is because cancer cells use up much of the body’s energy supply and may also release substances that change the way the body makes energy from food. 

The less supply of energy to the body caused by cancer will lead to a dramatic weight loss.  

On the other hand, cancer causes inflammation that promotes muscle wasting and disrupts appetite-regulating hormones. 

Unexplained weight loss

  1. HIV.

HIV attacks the immune system T cells thus making the body ineffective to fight infections. HIV can lead to AIDS and a lot of attacks on the body which often lead to weight loss. 

Symptoms like sore throat, mouth sores, fever, rashes, muscle aches, and others that lead to loss of appetite and loss of muscles. 

  1. Tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis can cause weight loss and, in some scenarios, it is affiliated with HIV. It can cause weight loss with causes that aren’t clearly understood. 

People who have tuberculosis always have chest pain, bad cough, fatigue, chills, and fever. Low body weight is a major symptom of TB. 

  1. You have pancreatitis.

Having problems with your pancreas can cause weight loss even when you are eating enough. Pancreatitis can cause the pancreas to produce fewer enzymes that are needed to breakdown food and process nutrients from the food. 

This condition leaves the body with fewer nutrients and energy to survive.  

Although you may be eating the same food or more as before, when you get pancreatitis your body will not be benefiting from the food and thus weight loss. 

Do you think it may be Pancreatitis? Read about the disease here from an article of the Mayo clinic 

  1. Addison’s disease

When you get Addison’s disease, the immune system attacks the adrenal glands which makes them ineffective in producing enough hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone.  

Since cortisol is responsible for regulating many functions such as metabolism and appetite, its low levels can lead to poor appetite and weight loss 

Other symptoms that may indicate Addison’s disease are low blood pressure, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, salt cravings, and hyperpigmentation. 

On the bright side, Addison’s disease is rare only affecting around 1 in 100,000 people in the United States alone. 

  1. Other diseases.

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, makes the thyroid gland make too much of the thyroid hormone. Since these hormones control functions like metabolism, having much of them can make your body burn calories at a high rate. Even with proper feeding or appetite, with this condition, you will have unexplained weight loss. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that makes the immune system attack the lining of your joints. The disease leads to inflammation which in turn speeds up metabolism and reduces overall weight. 

How much weight loss is normal?

Usually, weight loss in many people doesn’t come easily and many people struggle to lose weight.  On average, healthy weight loss is about 2 pounds per week.  This comes after proper nutrition which sometimes involves restricting calorie intake and regular exercises to burn calories. With this kind of weight loss, you shouldn’t be worried. 

Weight loss caused by a change in diet shouldn’t also worry you. If you have a complete and sudden change in your diet most especially when you switch to eating more healthy food, weight loss shouldn’t bother you. 

With healthy food, you will be consuming fewer calories, it is satisfying and has a lot of weight loss potential and thus dramatic change in weight should not worry you. However, it is also not so sudden or rapid 

When should I be concerned about losing weight?

So, when should weight loss be a concern? The point at which unexplained weight loss becomes a concern is not exactly known since people lose weight differently and have got different weights. 

However, weight loss should be a concern when; 

  • When an adult loses more than 5 percent of the total weight in six months when not on any weight loss plan. 
  • Losing more than 2 pounds in a week is also alarming and should be a concern. Just imagine people on a weight loss plan lose about 2 pounds a week, then how about you who isn’t following any weight loss plan or strategy. 
  • Weight loss would also be a concern when you are on a weight gain diet but you lose weight instead. This is when you should visit a doctor to see what is going on with your body. 

Can less sleep cause weight loss?

Poor sleep or interrupted sleep can cause weight gain instead. You will not lose weight because you aren’t sleeping enough. 

In fact, people who spend sleepless nights or have interrupted sleep cycles tend to gain weight due to a number of reasons.  

When people don’t get enough sleep, they will be less active during the day due to low energy levels. This can cause one to become less active and thus fewer calories burned through physical activity. 

During the nights, people who don’t sleep often eat a lot thus adding to their calorie intake. The reason they eat a lot is that the body demands food to boost your energy so that you can be up. 

Learn more about the relation between sleep and weight loss by reading the article here. 

How do you stop unexplained loss of weight?

With various reasons causing unexplained weight loss, it is difficult to just point out a general strategy that can work to stop unexplained weight loss. 

Generally, eating healthy and enough food will stop unexplained weight loss if the cause is malnutrition and consumption of less food.  

On the other hand, eating all the meals of the day will also help the body meet its calorie and nutrient demands.  

However, since most causes of weight loss are medical conditions, it is very important to visit the doctor if you notice rapid and unexplained weight loss.  

The doctor will find the cause and eventually a cure or a solution that will help you stop losing weight.  

Therefore, the best solution against unexplained weight loss is a visit to the doctor. This will also help identify the disease in its early stages so that it is easily treated. 

Will your body eventually stop losing weight?

Your body will stop losing weight if you get the right solution against the cause of unexpected weight loss.  If the cause was malnutrition and you engage in a proper diet, then the body will stop losing weight and eventually gain weight. 

However, if the cause is a disease, the body will stop losing weight if the disease is treated and has less effect on the body. Some stubborn diseases such as cancer that don’t heal easily will however persist and thus weight loss may not stop. 

That is why it is very important to seek medical advice if you suspect you are losing weight unexpectedly, the earlier the better. 

Is unexplained weight loss serious?

Yes, unexpected weight loss is very serious since in many cases it is caused by diseases or medical conditions.  You should therefore not take it for granted. 

As soon as you suspect unexpected weight loss, don’t self-medicate, just seek medical advice in order to find the cause and solution to it. 

The bottom line.

Unexpected weight loss shouldn’t worry you so much if you are fasting or been sickly lately. It should be a concern when you haven’t been sick, eating properly and you aren’t fasting. 

This is the time you should visit qualified medical personnel to find the cause of this unexplained weight loss.  

Do you know how to gain weight in a normal and healthy way? Read the article  How to gain healthy weight the healthy way 


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