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Explaining the Unexplained: Causes of Weight Loss in Females

Explaining Causes of Weight Loss in Females

If you’re trying to reduce, then seeing a lower number on the bathroom scale for no reason may seem like a gift, but it’s important to know the causes of weight loss in females when they seem unexplained.  While it is likely that you’ve simply lost some water weight after having been retaining, if it is significant or persistent, it could indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition.

When to Be Concerned About Unexplained Weight Loss

There isn’t a specific measure of when you should start to think that the causes of weight loss in females comes from something harmless or when it is worrying.  That said, many doctors agree that a basic rule of thumb is that if you have lost over 5 percent of your starting body weight within a span of six months to a year, without any explanation for it, you should make an appointment to discuss it. This is particularly true if you are an older adult.

What are Some Causes of Weight Loss in Females?

There are many causes of weight loss in females. Many of them are non-medical but others are medical. Frequently, a combination of factors come together to cause unexplained weight loss in women.  However, when you can’t find a cause, it’s still important to make sure you’re as healthy as you think you are.

Some causes of unexplained weight loss in females include:

  • Diet changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in your sense of smell
  • Changes to your sense of taste
  • Celiac disease
  • Cancer
  • Addison’s disease
  • COPD
  • Dementia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Dental issues
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Medication side effects
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, recreational drugs)

What Will Your Doctor Do?

If you make an appointment to find the causes of unexplained weight loss in females, your doctor will start by talking to you about certain potential changes in your lifestyle that may have lead to the shift in your body mass.  This will usually begin with a thorough history.  If there aren’t any obvious answers found right away, a physical exam and some basic lab testing will likely come next.  Image scans may be called for in order to spot potential hidden cancers, though those are not typically ordered or helpful unless there are other signs that suggest this could be a culprit.

Sometimes, if nothing is identified with initial testing, the recommendation is to closely monitor your weight, diet, exercise or other factors over the next six months to see if the weight continues to be lost or if it was an isolated incident. Depending on how much you’ve lost, you may need to follow a special diet that will help you to regain lost pounds (if you need them) or to stop you from losing any more.