This is a very non-specific symptom. However, an acute weight loss may be indicative of a serious underlying pathology. Below is presented a scheme for thinking about acute weight loss.
Causes of acute weight loss include:
- insufficient calorie intake:
- anorexia - associated with infection, malignancy and anorexia nervosa
- dysphagia e.g. oesophageal carcinoma, oesophageal reflux
- vomiting e.g. pyloric stenosis, hiatus hernia
- malabsorptive states:
- chronic pancreatitis, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease
- high energy usage:
Significant unintentional weight loss is defined as (1):
- unintentional loss of more than 5% of body weight over 6 to 12 months
- NHS Choices. Unitentional weight loss (Accessed 29/12/2020).
Last edited 12/2020 and last reviewed 01/2021