What is weight loss?

Weight loss as a symptom is any loss of weight that you cannot explain, or that you did not plan or work for through increased diet control and exercise. Weight loss as a symptom can be caused by diseases affecting almost any part of the body, including ongoing infections, AIDS, cancers, depression, painful mouth sores, missing teeth, chronic liver disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, thyroid disease, heart disease, and chronic diarrhea or other digestive disorders. It can also be caused by loss of appetite due to dementia and by certain eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia as well as malnutrition.

Some drugs are also known to cause abnormal weight loss. These include amphetamines, chemotherapeutic agents, and thyroid medications. Drug abuse involving excessive use of purgatives and laxatives, heavy street drug use, or smoking is also known to cause abnormal weight loss. Rapid or persistent weight loss is very dangerous and can cause severe damage to multiple organs and should always be investigated as soon as possible.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have heart arrhythmias; dizziness or wooziness; vomiting blood; dehydration; severe vomiting; severe diarrhea; severe abdominal pain; difficulty breathing; or confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment.

If your weight loss is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with weight loss?

Weight loss may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect digestion may also involve other body systems.... Read more about weight losssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes weight loss?

Weight loss as a symptom can be caused by diseases affecting almost any part of the body, including ongoing infections, AIDS, cancers, depression, painful mouth sores, missing teeth, chronic liver disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, hypothyroidism, heart disease, and chronic diarrhea or other digestive disorders. Weight loss can also be caused by loss of appetite due to dementia or by certain eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.... Read more about weight losscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet