What may be behind the unexplained weight loss
Quickly shed several pounds...some people dream about it. But when such weight loss is completely involuntary, without diet or deprivation, it is better to consult your doctor without delay.
Weight balance is a criterion for good health. So any rapid weight gain or loss should be a warning, especially if you haven't changed your eating habits. This sudden disparity can already be a harbinger of malfunction in the body or disease. But since thinness is so praised in our society, complaining about melting like snow in the sun is almost a taboo.
The medical profession considers weight loss satisfactory when you lose 5% of your weight in less than 6 months or 10% of your weight in less than a year, ie 5.5 kilograms for a woman weighing 55 kilograms, for example.
Psychological causes in almost half of the cases
Dr. William de Carvalho, a psychiatrist in Paris, points out that “depression often leads to an appetite disorder.” While some people with depression turn to food, others lose the pleasure of eating. Food seems tasteless to them, and the thought of eating it becomes an insurmountable chore. Hence the sudden weight loss that increases the feeling of extreme fatigue characteristic of depression.
Excessive stress also suppresses appetite and alters fat storage. This is why some women lose drastically weight after giving birth, between a crying baby, upset family balance, lack of sleep and returning to work to manage. The result: They find themselves thinner than they were before pregnancy, while the majority of women keep an extra 0.4 to 3 pounds up to 12 months after giving birth.
Malnutrition caused by anorexia nervosa or frequent episodes of bulimia, followed by regular vomiting, is also the source of many rapid weight loss.
Manifestation of gastrointestinal or infectious diseases
Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis often results in weight loss due to accelerated transit (diarrhea) and poor absorption of nutrients in the intestine. In children, a delay in growth and puberty is observed. Stomach ulcers also splint the scales due to the pain and loss of appetite they cause.
Unexplained weight loss can also indicate the presence of a viral or bacterial infection ( hepatitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV, etc.). It is also sometimes caused by an intestinal parasite that has returned from a trip abroad, such as a tapeworm, which causes weight loss despite a dangerous increase in appetite.
Possible hormonal imbalance
Insulin-dependent diabetes is often manifested by weight loss and severe dehydration, which leads to excessive drinking and an increase in the volume of urine. Thyroid disorders also have repercussions on weight. If it's running in slow motion (hypothyroidism), "we tend to gain a little weight despite a moderate appetite," notes Dr. Pierre Nice, endocrinologist and author of The IG Thyroid Diet (ed. Leduc.s).
On the contrary, when it is eliminated (hyperthyroidism), the excess influx of hormones causes excessive metabolic reactions: the heart bleeds, the sweat glands secrete a lot of sweat, transit speeds up, etc. As a result, "we lose weight even though we eat more than usual," Dr. Ness explains.
Sudden weight loss is one of the first symptoms that suggest cancer. In fact, 4 out of 10 people diagnosed reported having lost significant weight in the previous months. A British study from Oxford University in April 2018 also established this frequent association. By compiling medical data from 11.5 million patients, researchers have established that weight loss is linked to the occurrence of ten types of cancer: cancer of the lungs, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, colon, gallbladder, ovaries, and prostate, as well as myeloma. And non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
It is best not to take the situation lightly. In the event of significant and unplanned weight loss, make an appointment as soon as possible with your attending physician so that he or she can objectively assess the weight loss, determine the cause and refer you to the most appropriate specialist.