Weight loss - unintentional
St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Men's Center

Weight loss - unintentional

Definition

Unintentional weight loss is a decrease in body weight that is not voluntary. In other words, you did not try to loss the weight by dieting or exercising.

See: Intentional weight loss

Alternative Names

Loss of weight; Losing weight without trying

Causes

There are many causes of unintentional weight loss. Some are listed below:

  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea that is chronic (lasts a long time)
  • Drugs, including amphetamines, chemotherapy drugs, laxatives (when abused), and thyroid medications
  • Drug abuse
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Infection
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Manipulative behavior (in children)
  • Painful mouth sores, mouth braces, or a loss of teeth that prevent you from eating normally
  • Smoking

Note: This list may not be all inclusive

Home Care

Practice moderation and maintain a balanced diet and exercise program. For weight loss caused by oral or dental problems, see the dentist. For weight loss caused by disease, follow your health care provider's prescribed therapy to treat the cause.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

  • An adolescent son or daughter has an unrealistic self-image and seems to be dieting too much.
  • You have lost more than 5% of your normal body weight over 6 - 12 months or less, and the weight loss cannot be explained.
  • Other symptoms have occurred with the weight loss.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and measure your weight. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • When did the weight loss begin?
  • Has the weight loss occurred suddenly or slowly?
  • How much weight have you lost?
  • Are you eating less?
  • Are you eating different foods?
  • Are you exercising more?
  • Have you been sick?
  • Do you have any dental problems or mouth sores?
  • Do you have more stress or anxiety than usual?
  • Have you vomited? Did you make yourself vomit?
  • Do you have more energy lately?
  • Are you fainting?
  • Do you have occasional uncontrollable hunger with palpitations, tremor, and sweating?
  • Have you had a change in vision?
  • Do you have increased sensitivity to cold or heat?
  • Have you had constipation or diarrhea?
  • Do you have increased thirst or are you drinking more?
  • Are you urinating more than usual?
  • Have you lost any hair?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Do you have severe depression?
  • Are you pleased or concerned with the weight loss?

The following tests may be done:

  • Nutritional assessment
  • Blood tests

Psychological counseling may be recommended in cases where anorexia nervosa or depression is the cause of the weight loss. For weight loss caused by a chronic illness, tube feeding may be needed in order to maintain nutrition and prevent edema, poor healing, and muscle wasting.

You may need to see a dietitian for nutritional counseling.

References

Bistrian BR. Nutritional assessment. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 233.

Noel MB, Thompson M, Wadland Wc, Holtrop JS. Nutrition and family medicine. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 48.



Review Date: 2/20/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Back  |  Top
About Us
Contact Us
History
Mission
Locations & Directions
Quality Reports
Annual Reports
Honors & Awards
Community Health Needs
Assessment

Newsroom
Services
Brain & Spine
Cancer
Heart
Maternity
Orthopedics
Pulmonary
Sleep Medicine
Urgent Care
Women's Services
All Services
Patients & Visitors
Locations & Directions
Find a Physician
Tour St. Luke's
Patient & Visitor Information
Contact Us
Payment Options
Financial Assistance
Send a Card
Mammogram Appointments
Health Tools
My Personal Health
mystlukes
Spirit of Women
Health Information & Tools
Clinical Trials
Health Risk Assessments
Employer Programs -
Passport to Wellness

Classes & Events
Classes & Events
Spirit of Women
Donate & Volunteer
Giving Opportunities
Volunteer
Physicians & Employees
For Physicians
Remote Access
Medical Residency Information
Pharmacy Residency Information
Physician CPOE Training
Careers
Careers
St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile