A loss of body weight can occur intentionally or unintentionally.
The reduction in body weight may be caused by a disease.
Sometimes the patient does not know his disease that causes the weight loss, because the signs and symptoms are not clear.
The most common cause of unwanted weight loss is the result of:
- lack of appetite,
- a limited calorie intake,
Another cause may be reduced mobility, which prevents or hinders the preparation and absorption of food.
In case of sudden weight loss, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible, as a serious illness may be the reason.
is the medical term for weight loss and muscle wasting that occurs in:
- systemic infections such as AIDS;
- organ weakness (for example, in chronic renal failure or heart failure);
- progressively progressive and degenerative diseases such as cystic fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver;
- cancer, for example, leukemia;
- increased catabolism, which is the breakdown of metabolic products that serve to produce energy, for example through excessive training.
Causes of unwanted or pathological weight loss
The conditions mentioned below are some of the most common causes of weight loss. Not all symptoms or clinical signs need to be recognizable. There are other causes that should be considered in case of unexplained weight loss.
Drug addiction Weight loss is a common characteristic of most types of addiction, including:
- Abuse of narcotic drugs.
Nicotine can also be the cause of decreased appetite.
Cancer A malignant tumor can sometimes not be detected until the late stages of the disease. Fatigue and weight loss may be the only signs in the initial phases.
The weight loss also manifests itself despite normal eating behavior, because the tumor cells consume a lot of energy for their growth.
A tumor can also cause symptoms such as:
- extreme tiredness (exhaustion).
Both diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus can lead to weight loss.
This can occur with other symptoms, for example:
- frequent/excessive urination (polyuria);
- increased thirst (polydipsia).
Metformin is a drug used to treat diabetes. If taken regularly, it can cause a slight reduction in body weight.
Eating disorders Weight loss is a common hallmark of most eating disorders
, especially anorexia nervosa.
This cause can be suspected in adolescents and adolescents, especially women.
It can occur together with other behaviors, for example:
- refusal to eat;
- uncontrolled nutrition;
- lack of self-esteem;
- Obsession with body shape and weight.
They can be caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Human intestinal parasites can go undetected for a long time. Other symptoms that cause gastroenteritis include:
- Stomach ache;
- irregular bowel behavior.
Gallstones are deposits of cholesterol in the gallbladder when the liver forms an excess of:
Most people who form gallstones have no symptoms, but when the bile ducts are blocked, the following symptoms occur:
- Pain in the right flank
- Back pain between the shoulder blades
- Nausea and vomiting
- Digestive problems
- Jaundice (jaundice)
An infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or the outbreak of AIDS can cause weight loss with visible cachexia in the final stages. Other symptoms of the condition include:
- night sweats;
- repeated infections such as the common cold or seasonal influenza.
Also called thyrotoxicosis, in which weight loss occurs due to overactivity of the thyroid gland and high thyroid hormone levels, which increase the basal metabolic rate. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- heat intolerance;
- profuse and abnormal sweating;
- protruding eyes (exophthalmos);
- bipolar disorder,
Mental illness can cause the following symptoms:
- lack of self-esteem;
- altered cognitive abilities or perception;
- irrational behavior;
- abnormal behaviors in daily activities and social interactions;
- low or excessive appetite.
weight loss can be caused by active infection by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis mainly affects the lungs, but other organs without lung involvement can also be affected.
- chest pain,
- shortness of breath (dyspnea),
- coughing up blood (haemoptysis),
- persistent cough in pulmonary tuberculosis.
weight loss can be caused by mental or emotional stress as a result of lack of appetite and decreased food intake.
As a rule, the person concerned is concerned about an activity or a past event, but hormonal causes (stress hormones) can also be involved in lack of appetite.
Possible causes of temporary loss of appetite and body weight include:
- work stress,
- financial worries,
- past traumatic events (such as death and divorce) or post-traumatic events (war, criminal events).
Accompanying other symptoms may occur, for example:
- Panic attack;
Weight loss and menstrual cycle
Not only overweight women can have problems with the menstrual cycle.
A delay in menstruation, which can last over a few months, is possible in:
- women with nutritional disorders that lead to severe weight loss (for example, anorexia nervosa),
- underweight women.
Women with low body fat may have fewer menstrual cycles.
A drastic diet can lead to an ovulation stop.
Hunger, extreme exercise, and stress can affect hypothalamic activity.
Some women are so underweight that the body stops producing hormones. In addition, due to the lack of body fat, the cells are unable to convert cholesterol into estrogen.
Side effects of too rapid weight loss
Loss of muscle mass An important side effect of losing weight too quickly is the reduction of lean muscle tissue.
Insufficient calorie intake means lack of energy for the organism.
During a fasting diet, the body breaks down the fats after the first 24-48 hours and forms keto bodies:
Many people are worried that when fasting, the lean mass is lost, but the opposite is true, because when the body has used up the glucose reserves, it uses the fats.
The loss of muscle mass can occur on a low-calorie diet because the body does not produce enough keto bodies and thus also uses the proteins of the muscles.
A temporary but unpleasant side effect of weight loss is chills and a feeling of cold.
Fat insulates the body and prevents cold loss.
Losing weight too quickly leads to the loss of this isolation. In contrast, some people who are overweight sweat heavily.
Hair loss Another side effect of rapid weight loss in a short time is hair thinning or hair loss.
This is usually done with insufficient protein intake; the body uses the protein from the hair to support other important bodily functions.
The good news is that hair will grow again once proper nutrition with sufficient amounts of protein is resumed.