Sudden weight loss is a sign that alerts us to possible health problems. In the case of the most serious diseases, losing weight is almost always accompanied by other symptoms. However, in all cases, it is convenient to consult the doctor.
About Sudden Weight Loss:
Sudden weight loss can be due to many causes, which almost always have to do with health problems. In any case, it is an important signal that should not be overlooked and merits a prompt medical consultation.
In the current era, the issue of body weight has many aesthetic and social connotations. For this reason, the first thing that should be corroborated is that there has been a sudden loss of weight. Sometimes, there is simply a change in the perception of body image.
In this regard, Dr. Jorge Quiroga Vila, director of the department of internal medicine at the University of Navarra Clinic points out that up to 50% of patients who consult for a sudden weight loss have not really lost weight.
Sudden Weight Loss
Whenever there is sudden weight loss, a systemic disease should be suspected. However, before anything else, the parameters of what a significant or relevant weight loss means from the medical point of view must be established.
It is not easy to establish when a weight loss is worrying. However, there is a parameter on which there is an almost absolute medical consensus. He points out that any loss of 5% of body mass in a period of between 6 and 12 months, should be a reason for medical consultation.
Therefore, the important thing is not how many kilograms are lost, but what percentage of the total body mass they represent. Thus, a person of 100 kilos should suspect that something is wrong if he loses 5 kilos in the period indicated. However, in a person of 50 kilos, the alert figure is 2.5 kilos.
It is not enough to point out something that in principle may seem obvious, but always worth emphasizing: weight loss should be involuntary. It is that the concern is that without something specific to do to lose weight, produced thinning.
The causes of sudden weight loss are many. In 75% of cases, it is possible to identify the reason. In general, weight is lost because fewer calories are ingested than the body needs, or because there is a disorder that prevents the body from absorbing nutrients properly. Sometimes both factors are present.
It is very common that these sudden weight losses are the result of a state of depression. It is very important to analyze whether there was a previous duel, such as a death or a divorce, or a traumatic event before the person lost weight.
There are some diseases in which weight loss appears before other symptoms. It is the case of tumors of the digestive system. Also, some infectious diseases such as HIV, endocarditis, tuberculosis, and fungal or parasitic diseases.
Weight loss is common in cases of hyperthyroidism or pheochromocytoma, diabetes mellitus, and adrenal insufficiency. Several types of cancer are associated with weight loss. But usually, there are more symptoms in those cases.
Age and Weight Loss
Age is a relevant factor when analyzing the causes and consequences of weight loss. There are specific stages or circumstances in which this situation arises. Let’s see:
- Newborn babies: It is not uncommon for babies to lose up to 10% of their body weight during their first 15 days of life. This is due to the expulsion of fluids through feces or urine. From then on, it is expected to increase half a pound per week for up to 6 months.
- Elderly people: It is normal for there to be weight loss during the aging process, as long as it occurs gradually. It is also normal that there is a loss of muscle mass and bone mass. If it occurs suddenly it indicates health problems.
It should be noted that many times you lose weight during pregnancy. This occurs in mothers who experience dizziness and vomiting at the beginning of pregnancy. Therefore, they fail to maintain adequate food. It is important to consult with the doctor in those cases.
Emotional stress is also a frequent cause of weight loss. High cortisol levels, as well as an eating disorder, leads to this. Likewise, the compulsive consumption of psychoactive drugs can have a decisive influence on weight.
What do we do if we detect a sudden weight loss?
If you detect that you have lost a lot of weight in a short time, and you realize that there are alterations in the functioning of your body that were not previously, you should consult a doctor. A health professional will be able to guide you in the steps to follow to detect the cause and move forward in addressing the problem.