Weight loss - unintentional


Unexplained weight loss is a decrease in body weight, when you did not try to lose the weight on your own.

Many people gain and lose weight. Unintentional weight loss is loss of 10 pounds OR 5% of your normal body weight over 6 to 12 months or less without knowing the reason.

Alternative Names

Loss of weight; Losing weight without trying


A loss of appetite may be due to:

Chronic digestive system problems that decrease the amount of calories and nutrients your body absorbs, including:

Other causes such as:

Home Care

Your health care provider may suggest changes in your diet and an exercise program depending on the cause of your weight loss.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

The health care provider will do a physical exam and check your weight. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • How much weight have you lost?
  • When did the weight loss begin?
  • Has the weight loss occurred quickly or slowly?
  • Are you eating less?
  • Are you eating different foods?
  • Are you exercising more?
  • Have you been sick?
  • Do you have any dental problems or mouth sores?
  • Do you have more stress or anxiety than usual?
  • Have you vomited? Did you make yourself vomit?
  • Are you fainting?
  • Do you have occasional uncontrollable hunger with palpitations, tremor, and sweating?
  • Have you had constipation or diarrhea?
  • Do you have increased thirst or are you drinking more?
  • Are you urinating more than usual?
  • Have you lost any hair?
  • What medicines are you taking?
  • Do you feel sad or depressed?
  • Are you pleased or concerned with the weight loss?

You may need to see a dietitian for nutrition advice.


Bistrian BR. Nutritional assessment. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 221.