Maintaining a healthy weight is a great way to maximize your energy level, to improve your physical and mental well-being and to boost your self-confidence. Most of the time, some weight loss is a good thing, for both mind and body. However, sometimes, weight loss can be the sign of an underlying disease or disorder. The following is a list of disorders with weight loss as a presenting symptoms. A few pounds is rarely cause for concern, but if you lose 10 pounds or more, and you aren’t trying to, you should see your doctor.
– Addison’s Disease — a disorder of the adrenal glands. Other symptoms include low blood pressure, lethargy and a bronze discoloration of the skin.
– Cancer — Most cancers can cause unexplained weight loss, and sometimes this can be the only presenting symptom.
– Celiac Disease — a gluten hypersensitivity, resulting in malabsorption of nutrients in the small intestine.
– Crohn’s Disease – a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Other symptoms include abdominal cramping, fatigue, diarrhea and fever.
– Dementia – aging can cause some weight loss, but often the weight loss associated with dementia is more pronounced.
– Depression – if you notice weight loss in someone you care about, pay attention to their mood and energy level. Weight loss may be the only physical sign.
– Diabetes – high blood sugar levels can cause rapid weight loss.
– Heart Failure – when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body to maintain its normal metabolism and activity.
– Hyperthyroidism – a condition where you don’t have too much thyroid hormone. Other symptoms include sweating, nervousness and rapid heartbeat.
– Pulmonary (Lung) Disease – in addition to lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema and other lung disorders can cause rapid, unexplained weight loss.
– Tuberculosis – tuberculosis (sometimes called TB) is transmitted person to person through the air. Because the world is shrinking, it should be considered if you have symptoms of persistent cough, chest pain, fever, night sweats and loss of appetite.
– Ulcerative Colitis – another form of inflammatory bowel disease, with symptoms similar to Crohn’s disease. A diagnosis should be made by a gastroenterologist.
Hopefully, that didn’t scare you. The problem with being a physician is every time I have any symptom, even a minor one, lists like the one above fly through my mind. I usually settle on, “It’s just a virus,” just like I bet your docs do very often in response to a complaint. Still, it is a little unsettling to think every sniffle may have dire circumstances. No wonder I can’t sleep at night.