In a world obsessed with thinness, losing weight without even trying sounds wonderful. However, although it's normal for body weight to fluctuate, losing 10 lbs. or 5 percent of your body weight without a change in your eating or exercise habits is a cause for concern, according to MayoClinic.com. Be alert to the symptoms of digestive disorders to decide whether unexplained weight loss merits a visit to your doctor.
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of unexplained or involuntary weight loss. About 23.4 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes; it occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin – a hormone which helps regulate blood sugar – or body cells that do not respond to insulin correctly. Other symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue and blurred vision. Untreated diabetes can cause blindness, kidney damage or nerve problems.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than the body needs, raising metabolism and other body processes to unhealthy levels, according to the National Institutes of Health. NIH reports that women and those 60 years of age and older are most likely to develop hyperthyroidism. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include nervousness, irritability, fatigue or muscle weakness, and inability to sleep.
Celiac disease is an inability to digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye; when people who have celiac disease eat gluten, their immune systems respond by attacking intestinal villi, tiny wrinkles in the intestinal wall were nutrient absorption takes place. Other symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, constipation, chronic diarrhea, vomiting and pale or foul-smelling fecal matter. People with celiac disease can prevent symptoms by avoiding foods that contain gluten.
Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. MayoClinic.com reports that although the exact cause of Crohn's Disease is not yet known, it is believed that heredity and immune system abnormalities are involved. Other symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stool and cramping. Left untreated, Crohn's Disease can cause malnutrition, digestive system blockages and fistulas, which are holes in the intestinal wall.
Peptic ulcers are open sores in the stomach, upper intestine or esophagus. According to MayoClinic.com, peptic ulcers are caused by bacterial infections or certain medications, not by stress or spicy foods. Other symptoms of peptic ulcers include abdominal pain which is worse at night or when your stomach is empty, vomiting blood or dark or bloody stools. Peptic ulcers require professional treatment.
- MayoClinic.com: Unexplained Weight Loss
- American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Statistics
- American Diabetes Association: Type 2
- MayoClinic.com: Type 2 Diabetes
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Hyperthyroidism
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Celiac Disease
- MayoClinic.com: Crohn's Disease
- MayoClinic.com: Peptic Ulcer