Sudden Weight Loss

Losing a significant amount of weight is normal after certain life-changing events, such as changes in job or career, loss of a loved one, monotony and even divorce. After the initial stress of these changes wears off, the weight should return to normal, especially if you are more content with your lifestyle, or at the very least have had time to accept and cope with the above life events. Sudden weight loss may also occur when one suffers from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Additionally, many people expect to lose weight when they are dieting and exercising. If none of the above scenarios explain your sudden weight loss, it is time to visit a doctor to see if you need treatment for an illness.

Causes of Sudden Weight Loss

When there is an involuntary decrease in weight, it is referred to as sudden weight loss. Although this symptom is nonspecific, it can be an indication of a wide array of serious underlying diseases or conditions that need immediate attention. As always, be sure to consult a doctor with your concerns and do not self-diagnose.


How It Causes Weight Loss


When no other cause is apparent for the sudden weight loss, the patient should be examined for cancer, specifically blood cancer. This cancer is known as a culprit for sudden weight loss because it increases the patient’s metabolism, making it difficult for them to maintain or gain weight.

Hormonal Diseases

Hormonal conditions which cause sudden weight loss include hyperthyroidism, pheochromocytoma, adrenal insufficiencyand others. These cause sudden weight loss because the changes in a patient’s hormone will directly affect their metabolic rate.

Infections and Inflammation

When a patient has an infection or inflammation in their body, it can often decrease their appetite and cause changes in the metabolic rate. When the disease causes an increase in metabolism and a decrease in appetite, sudden weight loss occurs.

Neurological Disorders

Diseases of the brain just as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s can cause a change in eating habits, which leads to sudden weight loss, especially if the patient is also suffering from constipation either from their irregular eating habits or the medications prescribed.

Cardiac Diseases

Due to the weakening of the heart caused by most cardiac diseases, and especially by congestive heart failure, patients will suffer sudden weight loss due to their required diets, loss of appetite and muscle loss, which are typically caused by the release of cytokines in the blood stream.

Respiratory Diseases

Any type of disease affecting the lungs or airways can cause sudden weight loss because of the metabolic rate increasing along with the difficulty breathing.

Digestive Systems Disorders

These diseases may be some of the most direct causes of sudden weight loss because they directly affect how the body processes and eliminates food. When the digestive system is not functioning properly, food is not being absorbed properly despite adequate intake of nutrients.

Kidney Diseases

At the onset of a kidney disease, the vomiting and diarrhea may cause sudden weight loss due to the loss of protein in the urine.

Psychological Disorders

These include disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, which occur when a patient refuses to eat or vomits after eating. Sudden weight loss will occur from these disorders and will be more prevalent in those suffering from isolation and anxiety in addition to other disorders.


Sudden weight loss can occur in those with alcoholism because the alcohol disrupts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and increases the metabolic rate, thus causing sudden weight loss.

Treatments for Sudden Weight Loss

1. Diet Plan

When a patient’s body is suffering from a nutritional deficiency, their doctor may suggest them to make an appointment with a dietician to review their dietary needs and make sure they are consuming the appropriate nutrients to either maintain or gain weight. If you have a digestive disorder, you will need a specialized diet to obtain the appropriate nutrients.

2. Medication

Taking over-the-counter medicines such as laxatives or various supplements will help regulate any temporary digestive issues. Be sure to always consult a doctor before taking any medication and follow the directions appropriately. If you are experiencing hormonal discrepancies, your doctor will prescribe specific medications. Once the abnormality is corrected, your sudden weight loss should cease.

3. Lifestyle

If you suffer from a common illness, such as the flu, food poisoning or a common cold, you will want to consult with your doctor to make sure it is just a common illness. If so, in order to heal from these common illnesses, you will want to take more rest, increase your fluid intake and take stomach settling medications.

4. Feeding Tube

In extreme sudden weight loss situations, the patient is no longer able to feed themselves, or food alone is not sufficient to make weight return to normal, the patients may need a feeding tube.A doctor may administer a feeding tube to provide nutrients directly to the system. Again, this is only used in extreme cases and is considered as a last resort in order to save one’s life when other methods of receiving food have not proven to be beneficial.