Your weight fluctuates from time to time. During the holidays, you’d be bound to add a bit of excess weight due to the festive occasions. Or, you may shed some extra pounds after battling with flu or other health problems that naturally accompany the changing seasons. All of these are normal.
Losing weight from diet or fitness programs is normal as well. However, you should be alarmed when you’re losing weight at a startling rate, say losing at least five percent of your body weight in less than six months.
Losing weight rapidly without changing the levels of your activities or diet is beyond normal. You should be more alarmed when your unexplained weight loss is accompanied by symptoms like loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and others. These are all red flags for serious health conditions.
The following health issues often come with rapid weight loss. Whenever you suspect you’re suffering from any of them, consulting with your doctor right away is the best thing you should do.
1. Lack of nutrition
As a person advances in age, their metabolism slows down. It takes a long time for your stomach to digest food, which makes you feel full longer. This is often the case of older adults. Their brain signals that control appetite and satiation can weaken with age. Because of this, they’re bound to eat less because they feel less hungry.
But eating less can lead to poor nutrition that is not good for the body. This will then lead them to shed pounds without the intention of doing so. Most older adults are also into medication, which affects their appetite as well.
2. Lack of appetite
Another factor that contributes to the loss of appetite is the development of Addison’s disease. This happens when the immune system attacks the adrenal glands affecting its proper functions. Once this occurs, the adrenal glands will fail to make cortisol, the hormone that regulates metabolism and appetite. Without an adequate supply of cortisol, the body will suffer from loss of appetite that can lead to rapid weight loss.
Since numerous factors contribute to poor appetite, you will know it’s caused by Addison’s disease when it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as chronic fatigue, salt cravings, muscle weakness, and low blood pressure.
But your chances of developing an Addison’s disease could be too small since statistics show that this is a rare case.
3. Heart problems
Problems in the heart can also lead to rapid weight loss. Heart issues like congestive heart failure prevent the heart from pumping enough blood the way it should. As a result, the digestive system doesn’t get enough blood as well. This gives you difficulty in breathing while you’re eating. Also, your metabolism speeds up due to the inflammation in damaged heart tissues. The combination of not eating enough and inflammation leads to unintentional rapid weight loss.
Congestive heart failure is often accompanied by incessant coughing, shortness of breath, faster heart rate, or fatigue.
4. Thyroid problems
Thyroid problems also lead to unexplained changes in weight. An underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, leads to excess weight while an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, leads to weight loss.
Your thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, which regulates metabolism and growth. Problems happen when this gland pumps too many or too little hormones. When it pumps too many hormones, it can become overactive, burning calories on a much faster rate, leading to sudden weight loss.
Hyperthyroidism comes with feelings of increased hunger, sleep issues, and heart palpitations.
Diabetes is another culprit to a rapid weight loss. This is because your body extracts nourishment from your muscles that ultimately leads to a sudden drop in your weight.
Aside from unexplained weight loss, a variety of symptoms appear when diabetes is in its earlier stages. These include increased feelings of thirst and frequent trips to the bathroom to pee.
When you’re diabetic, your body is no longer able to absorb glucose, thus it gets rid of it through urine.
Regardless of the type of cancer your body may develop, it still can cause bodily changes that often lead to sudden weight loss. An unexplained drop in weight is most common in cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, and lungs. The development of cancer in these areas causes an inflammation that affects and disrupts the hormonal functions associated with appetite.
7. Rheumatoid arthritis
At times, an infection may cause your immune system to mistakenly attack your healthy tissues, particularly in the lining of the joints. This condition is known as rheumatoid arthritis and can lead to inflammation in the gut. Problems in the gut can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which can then lead to an abrupt drop in weight. Problems in rheumatoid arthritis are associated with pain and swelling in the joints.
8. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is another autoimmune disorder that can cause problems in the small intestine. This occurs when you have gluten intolerance and unmindfully eat foods with gluten. The moment gluten enters your body, your immune system will freak out. As a result, it will attack the lining of your small intestine, causing damage in this area.
Other gastrointestinal tract symptoms like bloating and diarrhea may follow. All these things can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, leading to weight loss.
9. Muscle loss
Muscle loss or muscle atrophy occurs when there’s muscle wasting. A lack of physical activity due to injury or inability to move your muscle is the most common cause for muscle loss. This is most noticeable when the affected area is smaller than the others, say an affected limb is smaller than your other limb.
Because muscles contribute to your body’s weight, losing some will have a direct effect on your weight. People who don’t exercise, sit longer, or are bedridden are most susceptible to this condition. The good news is, this is reversible. Once you get regular exercise and eat right, your muscles will regain their health again.
You’re likely to lose weight when you’re infected with tuberculosis. This is a contagious disease that affects the lungs and is caused by Mycobacterium bacteria. The major symptoms of this condition include loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
Since this is a disease you can get from the air you breathe, strengthening your immune system and ensuring you get BCG vaccination are your best defenses against tuberculosis.