When should you worry about weight loss?

When should you worry about weight loss?

  • Posted by Kings Pharmacy
  • January 30, 2020

There are many reasons for unexplained weight loss, such as stressful events or illnesses. We’ll go through some of them now but you should speak to your pharmacist if you’re concerned.

When is unexplained weight loss considered a problem?

To those of us always looking for weight loss advice dropping weight without trying may not sound like a problem. However, unintentional weight loss can be worrying and may indicate a health issue that needs to be addressed.

  • According to the NHS, losing more than 5% of your weight within six to 12 months when you’re not trying to lose weight could possibly indicate a health problem
  • For example, if you weighed about 70kg this would be 4kg of weight loss or more

The possible causes of unintentional weight loss

If you haven’t been losing weight through diet and or exercise, your weight loss could be due to:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • An eating disorder
  • An underlying illness or physical issue

We’ll go into a bit more detail below, but if you’re reading this article because you’re concerned for yourself or someone you care about, it’s best to speak to a healthcare professional. Hopefully there’ll be a simple explanation but it’s always best to check with those who know best and can offer appropriate diagnosis and care.

Weight-loss due to stress

Unfortunately, stress is something we all deal with at some point in our lives. For example changing jobs, getting divorced, being made redundant or dealing with the death of someone close to you can all lead to stress – and in turn, changes in your weight. Some people gain weight when their stressed, others lose weight. However your weight should return to normal as you start to feel happier and less stressed. If you are feeling stressed, counselling may help. Your pharmacist can direct you to appropriate services in your area.

Weight-loss and depression

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling tearful. There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having various aches and pain, and loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss. If you’re struggling with depression, it is important to seek help from friends, family or a healthcare professional.

Weight-loss due to eating disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia can lead to unhealthy, often dangerous weight loss and can quickly get out of control. If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to someone you trust and consider speaking to a healthcare professional.

Weight-loss due to other conditions

Besides stress, depression or eating disorders, there are many conditions that can cause unintentional weight loss. Health issues that can cause weight loss include:

  • Cancer. This one sounds scary, we know. It’s true that unintentional weight loss can be a sign of cancer, so it’s important to visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible. However there are many other possible causes too.
  • Thyroid problems
  • Mouth, teeth or throat problems that make it uncomfortable to swallow
  • Stomach or gut problems (e.g. Crohn’s disease or stomach ulcers)
  • A bacterial, viral or parasitic infection
  • Long-term inflammatory conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus)
  • Side effects of certain medicines
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Dementia

If you have any concerns related to your weight, or the weight of a loved one, you can make an appointment with your GP or even start by visiting a pharmacist for free advice and support.