Illness is a reality for us all. For most of us, these are minor illnesses. We get colds, the flu, and when working too hard, exhaustion.
With most of these conditions, we don’t tend to lose a great deal of weight. We may have a runny nose and be very fatigued, but extreme weight loss is not common to these conditions.
Unexplained weight loss is a sign of serious illness. If that weight loss exceeds 5% of your regular weight, or is rapid, it is most certainly a sign of serious medical problems. If you, or someone near you, notice weight loss, contact your doctor immediately.
Conditions that feature weight loss can have many possible causes and can look similar. Only a trained physician or other health professional can make the final decision on what the issue is.
Here are eight conditions that lead to unexplained, or rapid, weight loss and need immediate care.
#1: Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease causes the gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed. It’s also known as Ileitis or Enteritis. The cause of Crohn’s Disease is unknown, but it, often, runs in family members. Many different parts of the GI tract can become inflamed though the small intestine is most often affected. Other parts of the GI tract that are affected include the anus, mouth, and the large intestine.
To protect yourself against hookworm you will want to wear shoes whenever you are walking on soil, especially if gardening is a habit of yours. Worldwide, hookworm affects around 1.3 billion people, in all climates, but especially in tropical climates. The parasite is either ingested or comes through the skin. Abdominal pain and severe fatigue are common symptoms of hookworm because the parasite eats away at iron in the body.
When Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is contracted there can be weight loss. Many people with HIV may think this weight loss is because of the flu because many of the first symptoms, including body aches and fatigue, can look like the flu. As HIV progresses there will be significant weight loss. A study performed in Albuquerque found that this weight loss was caused by a protein-calorie malnutrition linked starvation.
#4 Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis
Also known as fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a common disorder. The American Liver Foundation states that when the fat cells in liver go above 10% then the patient has non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
This disease tends to occur in people who are overweight and symptoms may include fatigue, upper-right abdomen pain, and significant weight loss.
NASH begins as inflammation in the liver and over time, progresses into cirrhosis, which can be verified by the hard scar tissue that forms within the liver. Eventually, the liver will cease to operate.
#5 Stagnant Loop Syndrome
Commonly known as Blind Loop Syndrome or Stasis Syndrome, this illness blocks the flow of nutrients to the small intestine. Food remains in the intestine behind the blockage. Blind Loop Syndrome is, often, present at birth, but can also be caused by Scleroderma, Crohn’s disease, or diabetes. Other symptoms you may notice are abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss.
These are very common symptoms, so a trained professional is needed to verify the diagnosis and decide on treatment options.
#6 Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a viral infection that is related to the herpes virus. Like herpes, cytomegalovirus can infect anyone. This is a very common disease and by age 40, over half of adults have been infected. CMV stays in the body for the rest of your life and can be reactivated. Your baby can be born with CMV if your partner has this disease. Congenital CMV may lead to birth defects.
It can be contracted through bodily fluids such as semen, urine, and saliva. While most people do not experience any symptoms of CMV, if you have a weak immune system, CMV can lead to other serious illnesses such as colitis, pneumonia, Encephalitis, hepatitis, or retinitis.
Worldwide, depression affects over 300 million people. Depression is characterized by feelings of worthlessness, apathy, and extreme sadness for most of the day. Depression can cause weight loss because of the lack of appetite or motivation to eat caused by the extreme dampening of mood, behavior, and thoughts.
Many times, during depression, there will be little will to do anything due to fatigue, apathy, and negative thoughts that dominate your days. Speak to your general doctor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist about symptoms of extreme sadness or worthlessness.
“The Big C” is caused by mutated cells rapidly multiplying in the body. These cells are often damaged after birth. There are many warning signs of cancer, but unexplained weight loss is a common one. Currently, there are more than 200 types of cancers that affect many different areas of the body.
Well-known causes of cancer are smoking, sun exposure, and genetics, but lesser-known causes include your location, scented household products, sawdust, and certain sunscreens. When buying sunscreen look for Benzophenone-3. This chemical releases free radicals which can cause cancer. The FDA hasn’t banned this chemical because it is effective against the sun’s rays but limited it to 6%. Each form of cancer may have different symptoms but some general symptoms are significant weight loss, bowel or bladder function changes, bleeding, and lumps in tissue. A biopsy will be used to verify suspected cancer.
Weight loss should always be an intentional act backed by a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and goals. When you set goals for your weight loss plan, this ensures you don’t lose too much weight.
If you are diagnosed with any of these conditions, keep in contact with your physician to monitor your condition. Keep all scheduled appointments and discover ways to manage the symptoms, find support, and maintain hobbies, friends, and a healthy lifestyle.