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Deciphering Unexplained Weight Loss: When Should You Be Concerned?

Nov 03, 2023

Primary Care

Deciphering Unexplained Weight Loss: When Should You Be Concerned?

When those extra pounds suddenly melt away without a clear reason, it can be unsettling and perplexing. Unexplained weight loss is a phenomenon that can signal underlying health issues. Thus, it is important to understand what it is, what causes it, and when to seek medical attention.

In this article, we'll discuss the intricacies of unexplained weight loss, explore its causes, and provide guidance on when to be concerned. So that when it's time to seek professional medical advice, you know what to do.

Unexplained Weight Loss Explained

Unexplained weight loss is precisely what it sounds like a significant reduction in body weight without an apparent cause or intentional effort to shed those pounds. While weight fluctuations are common, unexplained weight loss typically raises concerns when it occurs rapidly or over an extended period. So, if you lose five percent of your body weight or more than 10 pounds in 6-12 months, then you are experiencing unexplained weight loss.

Diseases that Cause Unexplained Weight Loss

The human body is quite complex. When unexplained weight loss occurs, it can indicate a range of underlying health conditions. Below are some of the most common causes of unexplained weight loss that can cause you to lose weight significantly.

  1. Diabetes: Poorly managed diabetes can result in unexplained weight loss due to the body's inability to utilize glucose effectively.
  2. Thyroid Disorders: Both hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can wreak havoc on metabolism and body weight.
  3. Gastrointestinal Issues: Conditions such as ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer disease, and Crohn's disease can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and subsequent weight loss.
  4. Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can trigger unexplained weight loss as the body battles these invaders.
  5. Hormonal Changes and Imbalance: Fluctuations in hormones like cortisol and insulin can disrupt metabolic processes, leading to unintended weight loss.
  6. Cancer: Some cancers, including pancreatic, lung, stomach, and esophageal, can cause unexplained weight loss as they consume the body's resources.
  7. Dental Problems: Severe dental issues can hinder eating and lead to weight loss.
  8. Eating Disorders: Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are characterized by extreme changes in eating habits that can result in significant weight loss.
  9. Emotional Distress and Life Changes: Major life events, such as a stressful job change, divorce, or bereavement, can trigger emotional distress and unintended weight loss.
  10. Mental Conditions: Depression, anxiety, and dementia can affect appetite and lead to unexplained weight loss.

Other Risk Factors that Lead to Unexplained Weight Loss

It's essential to recognize that unexplained weight loss doesn't discriminate by age; it can affect individuals across the lifespan.

  • In Children: Children may experience unexplained weight loss due to growth disorders, food allergies, eating disorders, or underlying medical conditions.
  • In Adults: As outlined above, adults are susceptible to various potential causes. But apart from them, age and unhealthy lifestyle are other risk factors.

When to Worry About Your Unexplained Weight Loss?

While the occasional fluctuation in weight is considered normal, losing more than 5% of your total body weight over 6-12 months without a clear explanation should trigger concern. Additionally, consider other accompanying symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, increased infections or illnesses, or changes in bowel movements, as these signs may indicate an underlying health problem requiring attention. If you are contemplating when you should worry about weight loss, this is when you should.

Diagnosis of Unexplained Weight Loss

If you or a loved one experiences unexplained weight loss, you should consult a healthcare professional immediately. They will conduct a thorough evaluation, which may encompass physical examinations, blood tests, imaging, and other diagnostic procedures to pinpoint the underlying cause accurately.

Treatment Plan for Unexplained Weight Loss

The course of treatment for unexplained weight loss depends entirely on the underlying cause. Once the cause is identified, your healthcare provider will provide a suitable treatment plan, including medications, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, or specialized therapies.

When is the Right Time to Visit the Doctor?

Never underestimate the importance of timely medical attention. If you've noticed significant and unexplained weight loss, do not hesitate to seek medical advice. Early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in managing underlying health conditions. Moreover, unintentional weight loss causes a lot of disruptions in your daily life. Thus, your health should always be a top priority.

Start Your Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle with MI Express Care

If you're experiencing unexplained weight loss or any other health concerns, we urge you to reach out to us at MI Express Primary Care Center in Canton, MI. We are your trusted care center that provides comprehensive and high-quality medical care services. Your health matters, and we're here to help you on your journey to wellness. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a healthier you.

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