What can cause involuntary weight loss (and when it’s worrying)

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Weight loss should be a cause for concern when it occurs involuntarily, without the person realizing that he is thinning. This is normal to happen after going through a stressful situation like changing jobs, going through a divorce or losing a loved one.

However, if weight loss is not related to any of these factors, it is also associated with changes in eating habits or an increase in physical activity, which could indicate the presence of an illness as a thyroid problem , uncontrolled diabetes and even cancer.

In this situation, it is important to go to a general practitioner to carry out an evaluation and indicate the performance of some diagnostic tests, allowing you to discover what is causing the weight loss and to indicate the most appropriate treatment, if necessary.

possible causes

When weight loss occurs involuntarily, different situations could arise, such as:

  • Presence of ulcers or gastrointestinal disorderssuch as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic pancreatitis, mesenteric ischemia and celiac disease;
  • neurological changes, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis or stroke;
  • endocrine diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, adrenal insufficiency or uncontrolled diabetes;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as pulmonary emphysema or chronic bronchitis;
  • infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and AIDS;
  • heart diseasessuch as advanced heart failure;
  • psychological problems or disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anorexia, anxiety, bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder or schizophrenia;
  • Drug side effectsuch as antiepileptics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, diuretics or laxatives;
  • Cancer, being more common in multiple myeloma, leukemia and lymphomas. See some symptoms that could indicate cancer.

In addition, abuse of alcoholic beverages or drugs could also cause weight loss for no apparent reason.

However, weight loss could also have specific causes, depending on the age of the individual or specific stages of life, such as:

1. In personas majores

Weight loss during aging is considered normal when it is slow, related to lack of appetite, changes in taste or due to the secondary effect of some medications. Another common reason is senile dementia, that the person forgets to prepare food and eat properly.

In addition to weight loss, it is also normal that from the age of 50 onwards there is loss of muscle mass, mainly due to a greater reduction in the quantity and size of the fibers that form the muscles, a decrease in the production of hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, in addition to a reduction in physical activity, a situation known as sarcopenia.

Asimism, major people can also suffer a loss of bone mass, with the person having greater risk of suffering fractures.

2. In the embarazo

Weight loss in embarrassment is not a normal situation, but it can occur when the pregnant woman suffers from a lot of breasts and vomiting during the first months of embarrassment, this condition is known as gravidarum hyperemesis, because she cannot maintain adequate nutrition, an involuntary weight loss occurs. See more about hyperemesis gravidarum.

In these cases, it is essential to consult both a doctor and a nutritionist to know what to do and to avoid serious complications that could harm the growth and development of the fetus, since it is expected that a healthy person with normal weight will increase between 10 and 10 15 Kg throughout pregnancy.

3. In the baby

Weight loss is common in newborn babies, who need to lose up to 10% of their body weight during the first 15 days of life, due to the expulsion of liquids through the urine and the heces.

From this period onwards, the baby is expected to increase by around 250 g per week until the age of 6 months, and will continue to increase in weight and height as the age progresses. See what is the ideal weight for children and the ideal weight for children.

when to worry

Weight loss can be worrying when you lose, for no apparent reason, more than 5% of your usual body weight in the last 6 months or more than 10% after 6 months.

The formula to calculate the weight loss percentage is: % weight loss= Usual weight – Current weight / Usual weight x 100. The result of this formula will let you know if weight loss is severe or not.

For example, for a person who has a usual weight of 70 kg and currently weighs 60 kg, having lost this weight unexpectedly during the last 8 months, their weight loss percentage is calculated in the following way: 70 kg – 60 kg / 70 kg x 100 = 14.28%, meaning more than 10% of your usual weight has been lost and that this weight loss is severe.

In addition to this, one should also pay attention to the presence of other signs and symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, changes in the rhythm of intestinal functioning, bone pain, enlargement of the lymph nodes and an increase in the frequency of infections, such as flu, for example, it is important in these cases to go to the doctor to carry out an evaluation and prevent complications.

How is the diagnosis performed?

To diagnose the cause of weight loss, the doctor must assess how severe the weight loss is, if there is any sign of the present symptom and request diagnostic tests such as blood, urine and blood tests, and tests image as a magnetic resonance or X-ray, for example, continuing with the investigation according to the results obtained.

Generally, the general physician or the family physician are the first professionals to be consulted, and only after the results of the exams, it is possible to refer the person to the most suitable specialist, such as an endocrinologist, oncologist, psychiatrist or nutritionist, for example. . See how a medical check-up is performed.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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