Weight loss is the reduction of total body weight, due to loss of body fluid or fat or adipose tissues. Abnormal weight loss is a symptom of acute or chronic illness. Involuntary weight loss leads to muscle loss, depression and increased rate of complications. There is a strong relationship between weight loss and mortality.
Below are the reasons of unintentional weight loss:
- Depression: Symptoms of depression include trouble in sleeping, change in appetite, fatigue or lack of energy, thoughts of suicide and so on.
- Loss of appetite: Doctors term anorexia as Loss of appetite.
- Cancer: Cancers of pancreas, stomach cause abnormal weight loss. Treatment of cancer also has same effects.
- Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of the body. When the thyroid gland produces more of thyroxin, it leads to hyperthyroidism. It causes sudden abnormal weight loss, even if the food intake is more than normal.
- Malnutrition: Severe absence of proteins or carbohydrates in diet results to malnutrition. For example, scurvy occurs due to the absence of vitamin C in food. Supplement meal with constant nutrition. Well nourished people tend to get less ill.
- Drug abuse: The misuse of drugs is harmful as it alleviates blood pressure and heart rate. It leaves the person over stimulated. The prolonged usage results in irritability, aggression, insomnia, weight loss, addiction and heart failure.
- Eating disorders: An eating disorder is a complex compulsion of not eating the food that disturbs the physical and mental health. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The most rapidly spreading disorder is compulsive eating or binge eating disorder.
- Smoking: It is injurious to the brain and damages the lungs. It causes cardiovascular diseases. The more the person smokes, more is the risk of contracting the disease.
- Aids: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome causes severe damage to the immune system. There is no cure of aids now. However, with the advancement in science and technology, treatments are available to delay the progression of the disease for many years.
- Infection: Infections in the stomach or other part of the body leads to abnormal functioning of the body.
Several medicines promote weight gain. However, there are no specific treatments for the elderly people. Treatment of depression is one way to treat abnormal weight loss. For example, mirtazapine (remeron) increases weight gain and treats depression. Megestrol (megace) successfully treats patients of cancer or aids. Recombinant Human Growth Hormone (somatotropin [serostimal]) increases the body mass. However, this hormone is extremely expensive. Although medications promote weight gain, never consider drugs as first line treatment. Even if they help in inducing weight gain, there are many adverse effects of these drugs.
Following tips are valuable to reduce weight loss:
- Eat more food that the person enjoys the most.
- Instead of three large meals, have several small meals.
- Always keep ready to eat food items such as eggs, yogurt, cheese, nuts, ice creams, muffins.
- Eat high calorie and high protein foods.
- Enjoy having meals in pleasant environment.
- Consume about eight to ten glasses of water to maintain fluid balance.