Unexplained weight loss: What's it, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention

Weight loss – unintentional; Loss of weight; Losing weight without trying; Unexplained weight loss

What is unexplained weight loss?

Unexplained weight loss is a significant reduction in body weight, that happens unintentionally and without any known underlying cause. Losing weight for no reason can be an alarming symptom and may indicate an underlying medical condition., requiring attention and further investigation.

Many people gain and lose weight. Unintentional weight loss is the loss 5 kg or more 5% from your normal body weight for the period from 6 to 12 months or less without knowing the cause.

Causes of Unexplained Weight Loss

There are several potential causes of unexplained weight loss.. These include:

Loss of appetite, which can cause:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Cancer, even if there are no other symptoms
  • chronic infection, like AIDS
  • Chronic diseases, such as COPD or Parkinson's disease
  • Medications, including chemotherapy drugs and thyroid drugs
  • Drug use, such as amphetamines and cocaine
  • stress or anxiety

Chronic problems with the digestive system, that reduce calories and nutrients, absorbed by your body, including:

  • Celiac disease
  • Diarrhea and other infections, lasting for a long time, for example parasitic.
  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas
  • Removal of part of the small intestine
  • Abuse of laxatives

Other reasons, such as:

  • Eating Disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, who have not yet been diagnosed
  • Diabetes, who has not been diagnosed
  • overactive thyroid gland

Symptoms of unexplained weight loss

Beyond weight loss, people may experience other accompanying symptoms. They may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • unexplained pain
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Depressed mood or irritability

When to see a doctor

If you are experiencing unexplained weight loss or are worried about your weight, you should consult with your doctor. You should seek medical attention, if:

  • Your weight loss is significant, usually, more than 5 % from body weight in a short period of time.
  • Weight loss is persistent and unexplained and lasts more than a few weeks.
  • Along with weight loss, you experience other warning signs.

Questions, that your doctor may ask

During your physical examination, the doctor may ask you various questions., to help determine the root cause of your weight loss. Some common questions may include:

  • When did you first notice weight loss?
  • Have you experienced any other symptoms?
  • Have there been any recent changes in your diet or lifestyle?
  • Are you taking any medication?
  • Do you have any diseases in your family?

Diagnosis of unexplained weight loss

A comprehensive medical examination is required to diagnose the cause of unexplained weight loss.. Your doctor may:

  • Conduct a physical examination
  • Take a detailed medical history
  • Order blood tests to assess your general health
  • Conduct educational research, such as X-ray or CT
  • Recommend a biopsy if needed

Treatment for unexplained weight loss

Treatment for unexplained weight loss depends on identifying and addressing the underlying cause. This may include:

  • Targeted therapy for certain diseases, such as chemotherapy for cancer.
  • Prescribing medications for the treatment of underlying diseases
  • Referral to specialists for further evaluation and treatment
  • Addressing any underlying psychological factors through therapy or counseling.

home treatment for unexplained weight loss

While the treatment for unexplained weight loss mostly comes down to medical intervention, there are several steps, things you can do at home, to improve overall well-being:

  • Eat balanced and nutritious food
  • Get regular exercise and stay physically active
  • Stay hydrated, drinking enough water
  • Learn to manage your stress levels with relaxation techniques
  • Seek emotional support from loved ones or support groups

Prevention of unexplained weight loss

To prevent unexplained weight loss, it is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle and timely eliminate any alarming symptoms. Here are some preventive measures, you can take:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Maintain physical activity
  • Attend regular check-ups with your doctor
  • Seek immediate medical attention for any unexplained weight loss or associated symptoms

Used sources and literature

Throw away MJ, Trehan I. Protein-energy malnutrition. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 203.

McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 123.

Seller RH, Symons AB. Weight gain and weight loss. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 36.

Ziegler TR. Malnutrition: assessment and support. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 204.

Back to top button