Sudden weight loss: possible causes

Sudden weight loss: possible causes

Sudden weight loss can indicate a health problem. In the case of more severe diseases, it is almost always accompanied by other symptoms. The ideal is to consult a doctor.

Sudden weight loss can respond to several causes, almost always related to health problems. It is, therefore, an important signal that should not be underestimated and that requires medical advice.

Today, bodyweight has aesthetic and social connotations. First of all, therefore, it is necessary to verify the actual weight loss; sometimes, it is a simple change in the perception of one’s physical appearance.

Dr. Jorge Quiroga Vila, chief of internal medicine at the University Clinic of Navarra, Spain, reports that up to 50% of patients who report losing many pounds in a short period do not show significant weight loss.

Sudden weight loss

If you lose weight a lot and in a short time, you have to suspect the presence of systemic disease. But first of all, it needs to be clarified what is meant by “considerable weight loss” or medically relevant.

Doctors say that a 5% loss of body mass over 7 to 12 months is the reason for medical advice.

It doesn’t matter how many kilos you lose, therefore, but the percentage of body mass. This means that a person weighing 100 kilos should be alarmed if he loses 7 kilos in the indicated time frame. Similarly, in a person weighing 50 kilos, the suspicious figure is 2.5 kilos.

We also remember that weight loss must be understood as an alarm bell when it occurs without one’s will. In other words, when not on a diet.

Main causes

The causes of sudden weight loss are many, and in 75% of cases, it is possible to trace them back. Generally, you lose weight because you consume fewer calories than your body needs or suffer from a disorder that prevents your body from absorbing nutrients properly. Sometimes both factors are present.

It is also common to lose weight as a result of depression. A significant event, such as a bereavement or divorce, and a traumatic event can be decisive.

In addition, some diseases cause sudden weight loss as one of the first symptoms. This is the case of tumors affecting the digestive system. But also infectious diseases such as HIV, endocarditis, tuberculosis, fungal or parasitic infections.

Weight loss is common in cases of hyperthyroidism or pheochromocytoma, diabetes mellitus, and adrenal insufficiency. Various neoplasms are associated with this symptom, but more aggressive symptoms generally accompany it.

Worried woman weighing scales.

Age and weight loss

Age is an essential factor in tracing the causes of sudden weight loss. Certain stages in life, as well as specific circumstances, favor this situation. Let’s see them below:

  • Newborns: It is not uncommon for babies to lose up to 10% of their body weight during the first 15 days of life. This is due to the expulsion of fluids through the feces or urine. From now on, the baby will have to put on half a kilo per week for up to 6 months.
  • Older people: It is normal to lose weight as you age, as long as this happens gradually. This occurs as a result of the natural loss of muscle and bone mass. However, if the weight loss is sudden, it most likely indicates a health problem.

It must be remembered that many times weight is lost during pregnancy. This happens in mothers with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, and therefore unable to follow an adequate diet. It is essential to consult with a doctor in these cases.

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