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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What causes sudden weight loss?

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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 15760 Questions

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Posted on Wed, 13 Aug 2014 in Elderly Problems
Question: Ive noticed lately that Ive been losing weight. Im 69 and when im gardening I do sweat alot. Ive never lost this much weight like this year. Im getting nervous and hope it is not serious. I have an appointment with my Doctor on 08/18/14. I could use some advise on what to do now.
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
need tests to determine cause of weight loss

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

Unintentional weight can be a concern. Normally when a person notices that they are not intentionally losing weight, the more serious conditions have to be ruled out first.

In quite a few persons, the weight loss may not be due to a serious condition such as cancer but this has to be ruled out first.
To rule this out, the doctor would first need to take a history of any relevant symptoms such as loss of appetite, pain such as abdominal pain, vomiting, change in stool habits, blood in stool or urine, recent screening tests such as colonoscopy, PSA.

In addition, if the weight loss is confirmed by examination, blood tests and imaging may be needed. The exact tests would vary according to the signs found on examination but would include complete blood count and ESR (this is a test which checks for inflammation in the body)

Weight loss and heat intolerance (which may involve excess sweating) may also sometimes be due to high levels of thyroid hormone so your doctor may also suggest a thyroid hormone test.

The other causes of excess sweating are normally related to abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system which is part of the nervous system of the body.

Summary: (1) may not be due to serious condition but need to be ruled out
(2)may be due to thyroid gland problems
(3)other serious conditions such as cancer would have to be ruled out by blood tests and examination
(4)at the moment there is no particular home management except using high calorie drinks such as ensure till you can determine the cause of the weight loss.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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