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Weight loss: when should it bother you?

Weight loss: when should it bother you?

Weight loss among the faithful who dare to keep the ultimate body shape brings relief. For in losing weight emanates all-round health, from curtailing the risk of diabetes to mitigating morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. However, weight loss should bother you if it occurs without your consent – unintentional weight loss.

Unintentional weight loss is losing 5% (4.5 kg) or more of your usual body weight for six to twelve months without trying. It is inadvertently a feature of an underlying disease. And you should find out what it is.

In the general sense, it is due to chronic illnesses. They are enormous; however, a few are worth noting. These include tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDs, malnutrition, diabetes mellitus, malignant tumours (cancer), anorexia nervosa, heart failure, and hyperthyroidism. A few neurological diseases that cause muscle wasting, for example, motor neuron diseases. Depression causes loss of weight. It’s imperative that you talk to an expert: depression increases the risk of suicide.

No matter the situation, the moment you realise that you are unintentionally losing weight, you should visit a doctor to find out why. Do not google for answers: you will be confused. The doctor will order some tests to delineate the aetiology.

Unintentional weight loss always has an underlying cause. Until it is apparent, don’t settle. Pay attention to associated symptoms like night sweats, evening fevers, and cough in TB: excessive thirst and polyuria (excessive micturition) in DM: and easy tiredness, chest pain, syncope, and leg swelling in heart failure.

Loss of 10% or more weight in the last three months should raise alarm bells.  Do not just attribute it to stress. You may be harbouring a tumour within your body – say stomach cancer, ovarian cancer, cancer of the pancreas, lung cancer, among others.

Unintentional weight loss is one of the B or B-like symptoms that doctors inquire about when you visit a hospital. It’s hard to go unnoticed.  When doctors request to investigate your weight loss, comply. As earlier said, the causes are enormous, yet clinicians must rule out those that are.

In a nutshell, everyone wants to lose weight due to its associated health benefits. However, when this occurs unintentionally, it deserves investigation. Visit a doctor and have a few details highlighted: you may save your soul from the complications of uncontrolled high blood sugars.


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MBChB (MUK), Graduate Fellow, Department of Physiology, Makerere University Founder and Content Creator Peer reviewer, Associate Editor

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