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Weight loss - unintentional

Loss of weight; Losing weight without trying; Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss is a decrease in body weight, when you did not try to lose the weight on your own.

Many people gain and lose weight. Unintentional weight loss is loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) OR 5% of your normal body weight over 6 to 12 months or less without knowing the reason.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

A loss of appetite may be due to:

Chronic digestive system problems that decrease the amount of calories and nutrients your body absorbs, including:

Other causes such as:

Home Care

Your health care provider may suggest changes in your diet and an exercise program depending on the cause of your weight loss.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will do a physical exam and check your weight. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

You may need to see a dietitian for nutrition advice.

Related Information

Metabolism
Endocrine glands
Anorexia

References

Bistrian BR. Nutritional assessment. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 214.

McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 132.

Seller RH, Symons AB. Weight gain and weight loss. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 36.

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Review Date: 1/19/2019  

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, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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