Quickly lose several kilos.
Some dream of it. But when this weight loss is involuntary, without diet or deprivation, it is better to consult your doctor without delay.
Weight balance is a criterion for good health. Any rapid weight gain or loss should, therefore, alert, especially if you have not changed your eating habits. This sudden variation can indeed be a harbinger of body dysfunction or disease. But as thinness is admired in our society, complaining of melting like snow in the sun is almost taboo.
The medical profession considers that weight loss is pathological when you lose 5% of your weight in less than six months or 10% of your weight in less than a year or 5.5 kilos for a woman of 55 kilos, for example.
Psychic causes in almost half of cases
“Depression often results in a disturbance of appetite,” notes Dr. William de Carvalho, a psychiatrist in Paris. While some depressives take refuge in food, others lose the pleasure of eating. A menu appears tasteless to them, and the idea of having to eat becomes an impossible task. Hence a sudden weight loss increases the feeling of immense fatigue characteristic of depression.
Excessive stress also restrains appetite and alters fat storage. This is why some women lose weight after giving birth, between the baby’s crying, the disruption of family balance, the lack of sleep, and then return to work. As a result, they are thinner than before pregnancy, while the majority of women retain 0.4 to 3 extra kilograms up to 12 months after birth.
Inadequate nutrition caused by anorexia nervosa or repeated bulimia attacks, followed by routine vomiting, is also the source of much rapid weight loss.
The manifestation of a digestive or infectious disease
Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or hemorrhagic colitis frequently result in weight loss because transit is accelerated (diarrhea), and nutrients are poorly absorbed in the intestine. For children, delays in growth and puberty A gastric ulcer also induces a melt on the scale because of the pain and loss of appetite it causes.
Unexplained weight loss can also lead to viral or bacterial infection (hepatitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV, etc.). It also sometimes results from the presence of an intestinal parasite brought back from a trip abroad, such as the tapeworm, which causes the weight to drop despite the severe increase in appetite.
Possible hormonal dysfunction
Insulin-dependent diabetes often manifests as weight loss and severe dehydration, which leads to heavy drinking and increasing the volume of urine. A disorder of the thyroid gland also has repercussions on weight. If it works in slow motion (hypothyroidism), “you tend to gain a little weight despite a moderate appetite,” says Dr. Pierre Nys, an endocrinologist who authored the IG Thyroid Diet (ed. Leduc.s). Conversely, when it gets carried away (hyperthyroidism), the overflow of hormones triggers excessive metabolic reactions: the heart panics, the sweat glands produce too much sweat, the transit accelerates, etc. As a result, “you lose weight even when you eat more than usual,” says Dr. Nys.
A cancer indicator
Sudden weight loss is one of the first symptoms of cancer. 4 out of 10 people diagnosed report significant weight loss in the previous months. A British study, from the University of Oxford, proved this frequent link in April 2018. By compiling medical data from 11.5 million patients, the researchers determined that weight loss was associated with the occurrence of ten types of cancer: lung, kidney, pancreas, stomach, colon, gallbladder, ovaries, prostate, as well as myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It is, therefore, better not to take the situation lightly. In case of significant unscheduled weight loss, make an appointment quickly with your treating physician to objectively assess your weight loss, determine the cause, and address you to the most appropriate specialist.