The unexplained weight loss may be caused by loss of body fat, loss of body fluids, muscle atrophy, or even a combination of these factors. It is generally considered a medical problem when you have lost at least 10% of body weight in six months or 5% in the last month. Another criterion used to determine if the weight is too low is the body mass index (BMI). Weight loss is a cause of grave concern in older or frail people.
Unexplained weight loss can occur due to an inadequate diet where nutrients do not provide enough energy to meet a person’s needs ( malnutrition ). They can also cause unintentional weight loss disease, changes in metabolism , changes hormones , drugs or other treatments, changes in diet, or decreased appetite associated with a disease or treatment. Poor absorption of nutrients ( malabsorption) may be caused by gastrointestinal tract fistulas, diarrhea , drug-nutrient interactions,
Continued weight loss can lead to burnout and end up in a condition defined as cachexia . Cachexia differs from starvation because it entails a systemic inflammatory response. Cachexia is associated with worse outcomes. In the advanced stages of a progressive disease, metabolism can change causing weight loss, even when you are receiving what is normally considered adequate nutrition, since the body can not compensate for that loss. This leads to a condition called cachexia-anorexia syndrome, for which there usually works nutrition or supplementation additional. The symptoms of this syndrome are a serious weight loss by losing muscle instead of body fat,
Severe weight loss can reduce quality of life, impair the effectiveness of treatments or recovery, worsen disease and be a risk factor for a high mortality rate. Malnutrition can affect all functions of the human body, from cells to more complex body functions, such as the immune response, wound healing, muscle strength (including respiratory muscles), renal capacity disorders of electrolytes and water ), thermoregulation and menstruation.
In addition, malnutrition can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency as well as lack of activity, which in turn may predispose to other problems such as pressure ulcers.
Involuntary weight loss is one of the most significant features for the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and type 1 diabetes .
1 Causes of weight loss
1.1 Related to diseases
1.2 Related to medical treatment
1.3 Social disturbances
Causes of weight loss
Related to diseases issue Cause
Impairment of intake Lack of appetite can be a direct symptom of a disease, or the disease can cause pain when eating or induce nausea. The disease can also cause aversion to food . Inability to eat may be due to decreased consciousness, feeling confused, having physical problems affecting the arm or hand, and difficulties in swallowing or chewing . Food restrictions may also be imposed as part of treatment or research. Lack of food can result from poverty, difficulty shopping or cooking, and poor quality food .
Digestion and / or altered absorption It can be the result of disorders that affect the digestive system.
Altered requirements. Changes in metabolic demands may be caused by disease, surgery, or organ dysfunction.
Excess nutrient Loss of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract can occur due to symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, as well as fistulas and stomata. There may also be leakage through drainage probes, such as nasogastric probes. Other losses are due to disorders such as burns through skin exudates.
There are specific diseases that can cause weight loss :
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). When this disease progresses, about 35% of patients experience a severe weight loss called pulmonary cachexia, with a decrease in muscle mass. About 25% experience moderate to severe weight loss, and most others have some weight loss. The greater weight loss, the worse the prognosis of COPD. The factors that contribute to this weight loss may be loss of appetite related to reduced activity, additional energy needed for breathing, and difficulty eating with dyspnea (shortness of breath).
Cancer . Cancer is a very common, and sometimes fatal, cause of unexplained (idiopathic) weight loss. About one-third of unintentional weight loss cases are secondary to malignant cancer. Cancers that can cause unexplained weight loss are the gastrointestinal cancer , the prostate cancer , hepatobiliary (cancer hepatocellular carcinoma , pancreatic cancer ), the ovarian cancer , the leukemia and malignant lung tumors .
AIDS. People with AIDS (HIV) often experience weight loss, and are associated with a poorer prognosis. Wear syndrome is a defining AIDS disorder.
Gastrointestinal disorders. They are another common cause of unexplained weight loss, being the most common non-cancerous cause of idiopathic weight loss. Possible gastrointestinal etiologies that cause unexplained weight loss include celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, gastritis , diarrhea, and many other gastrointestinal disorders (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis).
Infections. Some infectious diseases can cause weight loss. Diseases caused by fungi, endocarditis, many parasitic diseases, AIDS and other subacute or hidden infections can cause weight loss.
Renal disease. Patients who have uremia often lose their appetite and suffer from vomiting and nausea. This can cause weight loss.
Heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases, especially congestive heart failure, can cause unexplained weight loss.
Connective tissue disease.Neurological diseases, such as dementia.
Oral disorders. Problems with the mouth, sense of taste, or teeth (including infections) can reduce nutrient intake, leading to weight loss.
Related to medical treatment:A medical treatment may, directly or indirectly, cause weight loss, impairing the effectiveness of the treatment itself and recovery, which can lead to further weight loss and cause a vicious circle.
Many patients feel pain and lose their appetite after surgery. Part of the body’s response to surgery is to direct energy toward wound healing, which increases the body’s overall energy needs. Surgery affects nutritional status indirectly, particularly during the recovery period, as it may interfere with wound healing and other aspects of recovery. Surgery directly affects the nutritional status if a surgical procedure permanently alters the digestive system. Enteral nutrition (probe feeding) is often necessary. However, a “nothing by mouth” policy for all gastrointestinal surgery has not been shown to be beneficial, and may even hinder recovery.
Some medications can cause weight loss, while others can cause weight gain.
Social dislocations such as poverty, social isolation, and inability to obtain or prepare preferred foods can cause unexplained weight loss, and this can be very common in older people. Nutrient intake can also be affected by cropping systems, by family and beliefs. Maladaptive dentures and other dental or oral health problems can also lead to inadequate nutrition.
Loss of hope, status or social contact, and spiritual suffering can cause depression, which may be associated with reduced nutrition, as well as fatigue.
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