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Unexplained Weight Loss: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

09 January 2023

It's a known fact that many folks find themselves in the struggle to bust their energy and beat off some pounds. But similarly, we also have people that effortlessly lose weight. Ideally, you would envy them but it's until you ask about their routine that your eyes get opened.

For this second category, they're not only ignorant of the cause of the unexplained weight loss but also lazy in trying to understand what could have triggered these bodily reactions leading to weight loss.

Anyway, you should note that sudden weight loss is one of the most serious health issues you should be free of. Thus, it's not all about the admiration that we ascribe to weight loss. Whereas we have multiple causes of unexplained weight loss, so it's a bit difficult to easily address a specific problem.

To know if you're moving closer to sudden weight loss, dropping more than 5% of your body weight between 6 months to a year is a huge indicator. Therefore, you'll have to see a medical expert and help you earmark all the reasons for unexplained weight loss.

So this article will show you all the causes revolving around sudden unexplained weight loss and when it's advisable to consult a medical practitioner. Remember, that you love this new weight loss is not a reason for you to be lackadaisical, the weight loss will attract a drop in your energy level too, and make you feel less productive while other dangerous symptoms also find their way in.

What Constitutes Unexplained Weight Loss?

Of course, it is very possible that you shed off a few pounds from your body mass even when you aren't observing any specific weight loss routine. Sometimes, your stress level, new diet, routine, or intake of healthy amounts of food can lead to weight loss.

You don't have to worry about those ones. So when does unexplained sudden weight loss occur? This deficiency takes place when there is a sharp decline in your total body weight by 5% or 10 pounds within a period of 6 months and a year.

This weight loss also calls for more urgent action when you are not observing any exercise routine or diet plan, or engaging in any activity that supports and encourages weight loss. That's when you should be suspicious but that doesn't mean you should be worried.

Symptoms of Unexplained Weight Loss

Generally, the symptoms of sudden unexplained weight loss vary from one person to another but that's mainly for the internal level. On the external level, the symptoms of this disorder are always the same. For instance, your clothes will be loose on you, unlike the last free months you wore them last.

The shape of your face changes a bit since the face is the first point of contact to undergo weight loss.

You will weigh lesser than what you earlier weighed on the scale.

You will also feel lighter and somehow unhealthy.

Almost everyone will be curious about your sudden weight kiss and give comments or ask about what's wrong.

You might experience digestive complications or abdominal discomforts that are prolonged.

You will feel a high level of tiredness, fatigue, and irritation all the time.

You might soon become quite aversive to some foods.

The ultimate symptom here is falling sick. It is the biggest indicator of bottom-line health problems.

Causes of Unexplained Weight Loss

Muscle Loss

Muscle wasting, also known as muscle loss, is a potent cause of unexplained weight loss. This is when your muscles get weaker and one of your limbs might even be smaller than its counterpart.

This is also based on the scientific fact that the human body is made of fat-free mass and fat mass which includes bone, muscle, and water. So the loss of muscles will automatically lead to loss of weight.

This can also occur when you don't use your muscles as and when due. For instance, people that do not engage in exercise, perform work desk tasks, or are bedridden for weeks or months. So the major reversal agent of muscle loss here is proper nutrition and exercise.

Other possible causes of muscle loss that you can be on the watch for are stroke, aging, osteoarthritis, burns, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, nerve damage, and osteoporosis, among others.

Overactive Thyroid

Also referred to as hyperthyroidism, overactive thyroid occurs when your thyroid gland produces excessive thyroid hormone. And these hormones play many roles in the body such as metabolism.

So it doesn't matter if you are eating healthy, you are bound to fall into sudden unexplained weight loss once your thyroid becomes overactive. Other symptoms that can lead to overactive thyroid are fatigue, anxiety, irregular and fast heart rate, sleep difficulties, hand tremors, and lots more.

Excessive consumption of iodine, thyroiditis, intake of excessive thyroid medicine, and Graves' disease can also lead to hyperthyroidism. So how about the treatment of this deficiency?

That depends on your age and how severe the problem is. But generally, you can treat it with anti-thyroid medications, surgery, beta-blockers, or radioactive iodine.

Rheumatic Arthritis

This is an autoimmune disease that compromises your immune system and makes it attack your joint linings and the result here is inflammation. Meanwhile, chronic inflammation can lead to metabolism and reduction of your total body weight.

Common symptoms of rheumatic arthritis are pain and joint swelling. It often affects the same joints on the two sides of your body. Another way to notice that you have rheumatic arthritis is when your joints go stiff and you can't move around for an hour or even more.

However, it should be noted that the exact cause of RA is unknown but it can be associated with smoking, age, obesity, secondhand smoking, genes, and hormonal changes.

All you need to treat rheumatic arthritis is medication such as biologics, corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and Janus-associated kinase indicators.


Another cause of sudden unexplained weight loss is Type 1 diabetes. If you're suffering from this ailment, your immune system will be programmed to attack the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin.

Meanwhile, the absence of insulin means that there'll be no glucose for your body to stay energized. This can lead to high blood glucose. Now, the kidneys will keep removing the unused glucose through urine but the truth is that calories leave your body just as sugar also leaves.

Other health issues that Type 1 diabetes is capable of causing include dehydration, excessive hunger, excessive thirst, excessive urination, and blurry vision. To treat this disorder, you need blood sugar monitoring, insulin, exercise, and diet changes.


Sudden weight loss can also be a product of depression. Depression is the state of feeling sad, empty, inactive, and/or lost for at least two weeks. These negative emotions may also affect your daily activities.

So what's the connection between depression and weight loss? The former affects the same part of the brain that also regulate your level of appetite. If care is not taken, it can lead to poor appetite and finally, weight loss.

Funnily enough, depression can lead to an increase in appetite for some people. So you should note that the symptoms vary from one person to another. Other symptoms that can lead to depression are low energy, irritability, poor concentration, constant sadness, excessive or inadequate sleeping, and suicidal thoughts.

The best way to treat this problem is through antidepressants, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapy.

Any Relationship Between Unexplained Weight Loss and Lower Back Pain

It might seem like a long and futile shot to bring these two concepts into an agreement but they are actually related. While experiencing sudden weight loss and lower back pain, that's enough proof that your body is not enjoying sufficient nutrients in your diet.

Especially vitamin D, you need to ensure that your foods are very rich in vitamins because they are the major derivative for the absorption of calcium and the improvement of your bone health.

Experiencing back pain alongside unexplained weight loss could also mean that your body is becoming weaker and you have not been giving it proper rest as you should.

How to Address the Problems of Unexplained Weight Loss

Understanding the reason behind sudden weight loss is the first and most important treatment step. So it's possible that your doctor gives a special diet and a wait-and-see tactic if you have no underlying health problem.

Here are some other ways to treat this problem:

Changes in Your Diet

Sometimes, the solution to the problem might be very simple and straightforward as changing your diet and prioritizing your dietary requirements.

So if your food intakes lack certain nutrients, this might lead to weight loss. All the doctor has to do is suggest certain changes and supplements in your diet. Of course, this will include red meat, fish, fruits, and other sources of protein.

Additionally, you will be asked to pay full attention to the consumption of green veggies and nutrition shakes. This will help you make up for the missing nutritional content in your diet.

Embracing Natural Treatments

If the underlying health problem is obesity or fatigue and this is responsible for lethargy, a sound and seasoned doctor would recommend that you go for natural treatments first before medications.

Therefore, it's also great to go for meditation exercises for people that are experiencing sudden weight loss due to stress. How about walking around? Sure, that's another natural treatment that a diabetic patient should embrace.

That's another solid way to boost your health and wellness.

Regular Exercising

Although this sounds alien to subject a body that is already weak to physical stain, regular exercising is another sure way to enhance your health, both internally and externally.

Exercising would also help you boost your metabolism level in such a way that your body processes and takes in food properly and daily. You can also integrate regular exercise into your daily routine if you are feeling fatigued or experiencing weight loss.

Changes in Your Daily Schedule

From your lifestyle at home to daily living at work, you need to incorporate a few changes into your routine to get rid of factors that can lead to poor health. Therefore, you should go for active standing instead of sitting and staying glued to your chair and screen all day.

Even if your work requires excessive sitting daily, you can also go for a few height-adjustable standing desks to help your work life stay healthier.

Going further, you should also pay attention to all your mental activities in check. You need to keep your stress levels in check. For instance, you should learn how to attack depression at work so you won't be frozen out by the workload.