If you have lost some weight recently without trying to, you might be pleasantly surprised. But, what happens when that number keeps ticking up no matter what you do, and you start to worry? Or are you losing weight too fast? Well, at that point you should be booking an appointment with your doctor to see what is going on. It is important to know what the underlying cause of this is. It’s also important to have as many as the facts as possible when it comes to unexplained weight loss before you panic.
Unexplained weight loss is a noticeable drop in body weight that happens when the person is not actively trying to do so. The weight loss is not a result of a new diet, exercise or other changes to the lifestyle. If the weight loss is due to any of these things, then it’s not unexplained. We highly recommend you think carefully and see if you can think of any lifestyle changes that may impact your weight like stress.
Weight loss of ten or more pounds is considered unexplained if it has been lost over a period of 6 to 12 months. Before that it could simply be weight fluctuations which are extremely common. Or, instead of measuring it in pounds, anything over 5% body weight over this same period is considered to be unexplained.
If you are experiencing this, you should be booking an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible. Try not to panic, but it could be a sign that there is something not quite right happening inside you.
It’s true that this can happen to anyone at any point in their life. However, you are also likely to find that this happens more often in people who are over 65. It is also much more serious for this group of people. Unexplained weight loss that’s less than the metrics we looked at above can be cause for concern or a serious sign that there is a condition somewhere.
There are a whole number of causes for unexplained weight loss. The cause could be physical, but it also could be psychological which is why it’s important to work out what is what. When you know what the cause is, you can work on trying to fix whatever is happening. But, you can’t do that until you know what you are fighting. Some of the causes can be:
We know that a lot of these are going to be scary to most people, and they might even be scary enough to make someone avoid the doctor. However, you need to be brave because if you do have one of these problems, and it is causing you to lose weight, it needs to be treated as soon as possible.
In order to diagnose unexplained weight loss, a doctor will give you a physical exam. They will also ask you a whole range of questions. This will help determine whether or not they can identify the cause of the weight loss. If not, it will go down as unexplained. Some of the questions that may be asked are:
These are all important questions. Some of the more personal ones such as regarding your urination have a purpose. You may feel as though the doctor is being intrusive, but they are looking for alternative causes. For example, if you are urinating more frequently, this is a symptom of diabetes. It’s for this reason that you must be completely honest with your doctor.
The way you answer these questions will also determine whether more tests need to be carried out. This could include blood tests, x-rays, urine tests or others.
The only way to treat unexplained weight loss is to figure out what the underlying condition is. If no underlying condition can be found, there is nothing to treat. However, if a condition is found, then it works by treating that condition itself.
It’s entirely possible that your doctor will take the wait and see approach. This will happen if no underlying condition is found straight away. Or, they might want to do some more tests and see if they can find a cause.
Your doctor may also recommend that you go on a special diet to help gain the weight back. Or, at least stop losing more weight in the meantime. It could be that they recommend you use nutrition shakes. These have more calories in them, and give you what you need to remain healthy. You may also be referred to a dietician. This is so that you can get help and advice about your eating habits. This professional will talk to you about what you typically eat, and then work out how to improve your situation.
We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now have a better understanding of unexplained weight loss. It’s important to understand something before you can do anything about it, which is what we hope we have done. It’s also essential to be able to know what signs to look for. If you are concerned about your weight, contact Chicago Weight Loss Clinic to see what resources are available to you and schedule a free consultation. Find a location closest to you.
Dr. Anand Thakkar is a licensed Internal Medicine physician. He is Board Certified in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. He has been a member of the teaching faculty for students at Chicago Medical School and has been featured on ABC, FOX, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes as a recognized authority in wellness, fitness & nutrition, weight loss, anti-aging, and women’s & men’s health. His mission is to help people become the healthiest versions of themselves using movement, nutrition, and a whole-body approach to medical care.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Do not make any major changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise without the supervision of a licensed medical professional.