Losing weight should be cause for concern when it occurs without the person realizing that they are losing weight.
In general, it is normal to lose weight after phases of stress such as changing jobs, going through a divorce or losing a loved one.
But, if weight loss is not related to these factors and is not related to diet or increased physical activity, you should see a doctor to assess the cause of the problem. It may be diseases such as problems in the thyroid, diabetes or cancer.
When to worry
Losing weight is worrisome when the patient loses, for no clear reason, more than 5% of body weight in a period of 6 months to 1 year.
In people weighing 70 kg, for example, weight loss is worrisome when it is greater than 3.5 kg, and in a 50 kg person when you lose more than 2.5 kg unexpectedly.
Also, you should be aware of signs such as tiredness, loss of appetite, changes in the rhythm of bowel function and increased frequency of infections such as flu.
When weight loss occurs suddenly or unintentionally and for no apparent reason, it could relate to problems such as:
- Intestinal diseases such as ulcers and Crohn’s disease;
- Neurological diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease;
- Problems in the thyroid as hyperthyroidism;
- Addison’s disease, which is a problem in the adrenal gland;
- Problems in the heart;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- Excessive use of alcoholic beverages or drugs.
It is also necessary to test if the weight loss has to do with other problems such as loss of teeth, anorexia or bulimia.
Causes of weight loss in the elderly
Weight loss during aging is normal when it is slow and is usually related to lack of appetite, taste disturbance 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.
Besides weight loss, it is also normal for bone loss to occur, which makes the elderly more fragile and at higher risk of bone fractures.
Causes of weight loss during pregnancy
Weight loss in pregnancy is not a normal situation, but it can occur when the pregnant woman has a lot of dizziness and vomiting at the beginning of pregnancy, not getting adequate food.
In these cases, consult a nutritionist to know what to do and avoid serious complications that may harm the growth of the fetus.
A healthy pregnant woman sees normal weight increases from 11 to 15 Kg during the entire gestation.
Causes of weight loss in babies
Weight loss is common in newborn babies, who usually lose up to 10% of their body weight during the first 15 days of life, due to the expulsion of fluids through urine and feces.
From there, the baby’s weight will increase around 250 g per week until 6 months of age and will always increase in weight and height as she or he ages.
See a doctor
To diagnose the cause of weight loss, a doctor will evaluate the symptoms presented by the patient and ask for a series of tests such as blood, urine
The general practitioner is usually the first doctor to be consulted and only after the results of the examinations can a specialist indicate the cause of the problem as an endocrinologist, psychiatrist or oncologist, for example.