Unwanted weight loss without dieting is a warning signal from the body, warn gastroenterologists. Because the cause of weight loss is often a disease in the digestive tract.
Unwilling to lose weight? This sounds like a good thing to some people. If you lose ten percent of your weight within a few months but without dieting, you should definitely see a doctor, advises the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS). Because gastrointestinal disorders are often the cause of unwanted weight loss.
Although the weight loss could also be due to non-gastroenterological disorders such as depression or problems with dental prostheses. However, in one third of cases, diseases of the digestive tract such as an infection, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease or an intolerance are the cause, the DGVS reports.
Unwanted weight loss: Weight loss can have several causes
Indications that a problem in the digestive tract is the reason for unwanted weight loss are abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. "If the body does not sufficiently break down or absorb the food components, we speak of a malassimilation syndrome," explains a spokesperson for the DGVS Working Group on Nutritional Medicine in the release from the DGVS. This can be caused by various illnesses, which occur with varying frequency.
"Since the symptoms are often nonspecific, the diagnosis is a challenge," says the University Hospital Rostock. Abdominal pain and diarrhea could indicate, for example, gluten intolerance, inflammation of the colon or the chronic inflammatory bowel disease "Crohn's disease" indicate. But abdominal pain and diarrhea can also refer to a disease of the pancreas or be consequences of an operation in the abdominal cavity, which was performed some time ago.
Unwanted weight loss with diarrhea: diagnosis is difficult with gastrointestinal diseases
In order to be able to identify the disease correctly, the help of patients is needed: they should describe their symptoms as precisely as possible. When does the pain occur, before or after eating? Alternating diarrhea and constipation? Is the stool watery?
But also the examination of blood, urine and stool in the laboratory can help the doctor to make the right diagnosis. The experts stress that it is important for patients to recognize the problem and seek medical help to prevent deficiency symptoms. Because gastrointestinal disorders do not only lead to weight loss: if the body does not absorb enough minerals, vitamins and trace elements, patients feel tired and less efficient.