Unintentional Recent Weight Loss

What Causes Weight Loss?

Weight loss can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnose your symptoms now!
  • understand what's happening to your body
  • learn what you should be doing right now
  • identify any nutritional deficiencies

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose weight loss, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "weight loss" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Cancer In General
  • Anorexia/Starvation Tendency
  • Blastocystosis
  • Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)
  • Underconsumption
  • Diabetes I
  • Short Bowel Syndrome

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
multiple swollen inguinal nodes
frequent rashes
sleeping more than necessary
occasional confusion/disorientation
major joint pain/swelling/stiffness
recent onset nausea
regular episodes of diarrhea
confirmed heartburn
strictly controlled emotions
multiple painful inguinal nodes
slightly pale stools
vegetarian diet
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of weight loss:
Cause Probability Status
Ovarian Cancer 91% Confirm
Anorexia/Starvation Tendency 20% Unlikely
Cancer In General 16% Unlikely
Diabetes I 5% Ruled out
Underconsumption 3% Ruled out
Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) 0% Ruled out
Short Bowel Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Blastocystosis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having weight problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Has your weight decreased significantly for unknown reasons in the past year?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know / not applicable
→ No / minimal change
→ 5% to 10% / moderate weight loss
→ 11% to 20% / major weight loss
→ Over 20% / very great weight loss
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no unexplained weight loss, moderate unexplained weight loss, major unexplained weight loss or very great unexplained weight loss, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Alzheimer's Disease

Weight loss can be a predictor of developing Alzheimer's Disease and allow for earlier intervention.  The accumulation of the peptide amyloid-beta inside the brain disrupts the body's weight-regulating mechanism, leading to accelerated weight loss years before an actual Alzheimer's diagnosis. [Journal of Neuroscience 2 July 2014, 34 (27) 9096-9106]

Carcinoid Cancer

Weight loss can occur in carcinoid syndrome, as in most cancers, and the presence of diarrhea may contribute to further losses.

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Weight loss is a common finding among individuals with chronic heart failure.  It is evident that malabsorption of fats is related to heart failure.  In one study, subjects with heart disease had 10 times more fat in their stool than heart-healthy individuals.  This means those with heart disease weren't absorbing their fats [Am J Cardiology 5: p.295, 1960].  Yet heart patients are typically placed on low-fat diets!  These individuals were leaner, but not healthier.

Diabetes Type II

Weight loss can indicate uncontrolled diabetes, while weight gain suggests an increased risk of getting it.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
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