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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Weight Loss
      Category : Health Centers > Weight Control and Management

Weight Loss

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Weight loss occurs when a person burns more calories, or energy, than he or she takes in. It may be deliberate or unintentional.

What is going on in the body?

A loss of weight is due to one of three factors:

  • fewer calories are consumed
  • more calories or energy are burned off during activity
  • a person's basic metabolism at rest speeds up
  • Weight loss may or may not be intended. Unplanned weight loss is often a sign of serious illness.

    What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    Some of the causes of weight loss are as follows:

  • cancer, including colon cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the pancreas, or leukemia
  • conditions that affect the ability of the intestines to absorb food and other nutrients
  • diabetes, a condition that results in high blood glucose levels
  • digestive diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or peptic ulcers
  • hormone imbalances, such as an increased thyroid hormone level known as hyperthyroidism
  • increased level of physical activity, due to exercise or manual labor
  • infections, such as HIV or tuberculosis
  • intake of fewer calories
  • medicine or drugs, such as amphetamines, ephedrine, cocaine, heroin, or alcohol
  • psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anorexia, or schizophrenia
  • severe kidney, liver, or heart disease
  • Other causes of weight loss are also possible. Sometimes a cause cannot be found.


    Next section


    Weight Loss: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 07/12/01

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