What can cause involuntary weight loss?

Weight loss should be cause for concern when it occurs involuntarily, without the person realizing that they are losing weight. It may be normal to lose weight after going through a stressful situation such as changing jobs, going through a divorce or losing a loved one.

However, if the weight loss is not related to any of these factors, nor is it associated with changes in diet or an increase in physical activity, you should see a doctor to assess the cause of the problem, because It could be due to the presence of a disease, such as thyroid problems, diabetes or cancer.

What can cause involuntary weight loss?

Possible causes

When weight loss occurs involuntarily, it could be due to various situations such as: the presence of ulcers or an inflammatory bowel disease; neurological alterations such as Parkinson’s disease; thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as emphysema; infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS; psychological problems or disorders such as depression, anorexia or bulimia, for example.

In addition to this, other diseases such as diabetes, depression, cancer, or the abuse of alcoholic beverages or drugs, could also cause weight loss for no apparent reason. However, it could also have specific causes depending on the age of the individual or specific phases of life such as:

In older people

Weight loss during aging is considered normal when it is slow, related to lack of appetite, taste disturbances or due to the side effect of some medications. Another common reason is senile dementia, which makes the person forget to prepare meals and eat properly.

In addition to weight loss, it is also normal for loss of muscle mass and bone mass, causing the person to have a higher risk of fractures.

In pregnancy

Weight loss in pregnancy is not a normal situation, but it can occur when the pregnant woman suffers from a lot of dizziness and vomiting at the beginning of pregnancy, so she is unable to maintain an adequate diet.

In these cases, it is essential to consult both the doctor and a nutritionist to know what to do and avoid serious complications that can impair the growth of the fetus, since it is expected that a healthy and normal weight pregnant woman increases between 11 to 15 Kg during The whole gestation.

In the baby

Weight loss is common in newborn babies, who usually lose up to 10% of body weight during the first 15 days of life, due to the expulsion of fluids through urine and feces.

From this period, the baby is expected to increase around 250 g per week to 6 months of age, and always increase in weight and height as the age progresses.

How the diagnosis is made

To diagnose the cause of weight loss, the ideal is to go first to a general, family or internist, who will perform a clinical examination and evaluate whether or not there are other associated symptoms.

In addition to this, you may also request some blood, urine and feces tests; as well as some imaging tests such as an MRI, radiography, endoscopy or colonoscopy, for example. Once the results are obtained, the doctor will refer the person to the most appropriate specialist.

Know some  signs and symptoms that may indicate cancer .

When should you worry

Losing weight is worrisome when the patient loses, for no apparent reason, more than 5% of body weight in a period of 6 months to 1 year. In people with 70 kg, for example, weight loss is worrisome when it is greater than 3.5 kg, and in a person of 50 kg when he loses more than 2.5 kg unexpectedly.

In addition to this, you should also be aware of the presence of other signs such as tiredness, loss of appetite, changes in the functioning of the intestine and increase in the frequency of infections.