Unintentional Weight Loss
When to speak to a doctor about weight loss
If you're experiencing weight loss that seems unexplained or shedding pounds despite eating more, it's advisable to consult a doctor. This could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
If you've unintentionally lost more than 5% of your body weight within 6 to 12 months, it's a signal that something may be amiss, and seeking medical advice is recommended.
Our medical professionals can assist you if you're going through unintentional weight loss. They'll carefully listen to your symptoms, inquire about your condition, and determine the potential causes. They can also refer you to a specialist for further evaluation if necessary.
Weight loss and other symptoms
In addition to weight loss, being attentive to accompanying symptoms is crucial. It's advisable to consult a doctor if you are experiencing:
- A decreased appetite.
- Severe or persistent fatigue.
- Alterations in your bowel habits.
- Frequent illness.
- Excessive thirst.
- Increased frequency of urination compared to your usual pattern.
What can weight loss be a symptom of?
There are several reasons why people lose weight unintentionally, including:
Hyperthyroidism, characterised by an overactive thyroid gland, leads to an excessive production of thyroxine hormone, causing various bodily functions to accelerate. Alongside weight loss, individuals with hyperthyroidism may experience symptoms like restlessness, irritability, anxiety, disrupted sleep, palpitations, heightened perspiration, tremors, and diarrhoea.
Often, family or friends notice that a person with depression has lost weight, rather than the person themselves. This can be attributed to the lack of appetite that often accompanies depression, which can cause a person to eat less and lose weight.
In many cases, signs of cancer will be noticeable before weight loss is detected. Nevertheless, in some cases, the first indication of cancer is a sudden and unexplainable decrease in weight. Cancer cells are more active than usual and draw on the body's nutrients for sustenance.
Weight loss, frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, and blurry vision are all symptoms of type 1 diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must see your doctor for further advice and testing.
Untreated type 2 diabetes can cause weight loss, extreme thirst, fatigue, vision issues, and frequent urination.
Eating disorders can manifest with weight loss as a symptom, such as in cases of bulimia or anorexia. If you suspect that you or someone you know is grappling with an eating disorder, it is crucial to seek help. You can contact a medical professional or a trusted individual who can offer guidance and support.
In addition, weight loss can also be attributed to less common factors like:
- Gastroenteritis: A bacterial or viral stomach infection leading to vomiting and diarrhoea, often caused by rotavirus in children and norovirus in adults.
- Addison's disease: A rare condition affecting the adrenal glands, resulting in insufficient aldosterone and cortisol production. Other early signs include muscle weakness, low mood, fatigue, increased thirst, and reduced appetite.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic condition causing joint swelling, pain, and stiffness, typically affecting the hands, wrists, and feet. Weight loss and fatigue may accompany these symptoms.
- Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing can lead to gradual weight loss and an increased risk of chest infections.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis involve gut inflammation, often accompanied by weight loss, extreme fatigue, bloody or recurrent diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
- Coeliac disease: Inflammation of the small intestine prevents nutrient absorption, resulting in weight loss, bloating, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
- Lupus: A long-term condition causing inflammation in the skin, joints, and organs, with primary symptoms including weight loss, light sensitivity, and swollen glands.
- Chronic infection/inflammation: Weight loss can be an initial symptom in infections like Tuberculosis (TB) or HIV, as well as in inflammatory conditions like polymyalgia rheumatica.
- Dementia: Early stages of dementia may lead to neglecting one's diet or skipping meals, often noticed by family and friends due to noticeable weight loss.
- Alcohol or substance abuse: Individuals abusing alcohol or drugs may neglect self-care and maintain a poor diet, resulting in weight loss.
Remember that this list is not exhaustive, and you should consult a healthcare professional for further guidance if you experience unexplained weight loss.
What should you do if you are experiencing weight loss?
If you suspect there might be an underlying condition responsible for your weight loss, it's advisable to seek medical attention.
With Mobi Doctor, you can have an online consultation with a doctor using any device, whether you're at home, at work, or on the move. The doctor will conduct a face-to-face video consultation, listening to your symptoms and asking questions to diagnose the cause of your weight loss. They will then recommend appropriate treatment to help you recover as quickly as possible.
You can set a time that works for you to talk about your weight loss with a doctor through Mobi doctor. Our doctors are available seven days a week and can refer you to a specialist for further assessment or treatment.