Unexplained weight loss sounds like a good thing. After all, deliberate weight loss is a lot of work – and much of it is guesswork, as we often must experiment with different regimens to find one that works for our particular body.
But it is precisely because intentional weight loss is so challenging that you need to worry when it happens unexpectedly. Losing more than 5% of your body weight over a period of six months, with no changes to diet and exercise, often signals illness.
Following are some of the most common causes of unexplained weight loss. Each one requires treatment, but some are downright deadly.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes unable to properly process glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream. There are two primary types – Type 1 and Type 2 – that differ in their mechanism. In Type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing cells in the body are destroyed and can no longer produce insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the body may not produce enough insulin, or the insulin is unable to process glucose sufficiently.
Both types of diabetes have similar symptoms and risks. Unexplained weight loss is one of the big ones, but others include frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurry vision, and a sweet smell to the breath.
Diabetes often causes poor circulation, and one of the signs of that is when sores or cuts, especially on the extremities, take a long time to heal. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to sepsis, a potentially deadly blood infection.