Symptoms And Causes Of Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss is a noticeable body weight drop that occurs even when an individual is not trying to lose weight. Read ahead to know more.

Written by: Tanya Srivastava Updated at: 2022-05-13 10:18

Unexplained weight loss is a noticeable body weight drop that occurs even when an individual is not trying to lose weight. Weight loss does not come about because of a specific diet, exercise or lifestyle changes. Weight loss of 5kgs or more, or five percent of body weight, over a period of 6 to 12 months is considered to be relatively “unexplained.”

Unexplained weight loss can be a major symptom of a serious health condition or illness. For the same, it is stringent to seek medical attention if you or a family member have lost weight which cannot be explained. This abrupt weight loss can occur in anyone. However, it is most common and serious in people who are over the age of 65. Even weight loss of less than 5 percent of body weight or 5kgs may be a sign of a serious health hazard in older people.

Causes Of Unexplained Weight Loss

Several medical conditions can cause unexplained weight loss. It gets important to pay attention to the underlying causes of this body behavior in order to treat it promptly. The following problems and conditions may cause unexplained weight loss in an individual:


Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces more hormones than the body's requirement. People refer to this health condition as an overactive thyroid. The thyroid produces certain hormones that regulate our body’s metabolism, so an excess of these hormones often causes the body to burn more energy than it usually does. Burning more energy and calories can lead to unintentional or unexplained loss of weight.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include fatigue, tremor with shaking hands, muscle weakness and rapid heartbeat.

Also Read: These 5 Tests Can Detect Hyperthyroidism or Overactive Thyroid Gland


Sometimes the symptoms of depression can also cause weight loss. When a person thinks too much, the brain over functions which confuses the body. People dealing with depression may have associated suppressed interplay among the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, which may affect the function of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Changes to the hypothalamus also affects the adrenal glands, which produces multiple hormones. These hormones include cortisol, which helps the blood pressure to regulate blood glucose level, and also the metabolism.

Other symptoms of depression include persistent or recurring feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or apathy, changes in appetite,  and/or unintentional weight loss or weight gain

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is one of the most common diseases caused due to a rare auto-immune disorder which harms the adrenal glands and prevents them from producing enough cortisol and aldosterone. People who suffer from Addison’s disease might notice a drop in their appetite as well as unexplained weight loss.

Other symptoms of Addison’s disease include fatigue, nausea, low blood pressure, or hypotension.

Also Read: What Are The Different Types Of Depression? Doctor Answers

Other Possible Causes Unexplained Weight Loss

A person may also experience unexplained weight loss as a result of:

  • kidney or liver disease
  • alcohol or drug use disorder
  • a stomach ulcer
  • celiac disease

When Should You See A Doctor

You should consult your physician/doctor if you have lost more than 5 percent of body weight or 5kgs without trying in a period of 6 to 12 months. This is especially important if you have the above explained symptoms, too.


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