Unexplained weight lossBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/unexplained-weight-loss/MY00713
Unexplained weight loss or losing weight without trying — particularly if it's significant or persistent — can be a symptom of an underlying medical disorder.
Your body weight is determined by your calorie intake, overall health, age, nutrient absorption and other factors. After you reach middle adulthood, your weight should remain relatively stable from year to year, although a decrease of a few pounds is rarely cause for concern.
Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) or more, weight loss of more than 5 percent of your body weight, or persistent weight loss should be investigated.
There are many possible causes of unexplained weight loss, including undiagnosed celiac disease and thyroid disorders. Potential causes of unexplained weight loss include:
When to see a doctor
If you're losing weight without trying and you're not sure why, consult your doctor — especially if you lose as much as 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) or 5 percent of your weight within six to 12 months. Your doctor will work with you to determine what's causing the weight loss and the best way to treat the problem. You may need a special diet to prevent further weight loss or to regain lost pounds.
- Rolla AR. Approach to the patient with weight loss. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 16, 2011.
- Bouras EP, et al. Rational approach to patients with unintentional weight loss. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2001;76:923.
- McMinn J, et al. Investigation and management of unintentional weight loss in older adults. British Medical Journal. 2011;342:754.
- Proctor DD. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Saunders; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed June 16, 2011.