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Weight loss - unintentional
Unintentional weight loss is a decrease in body weight that is not voluntary.
Weight loss will occur with decreased food intake, increased metabolism , or both. See also intentional weight loss .
ConsiderationsThere are many causes of unintentional weight loss including endocrine , gastrointestinal, and psychiatric disorders, as well as nutritional deficiencies, infections, tumors and neurological disorders.
Anorexia nervosa appears almost exclusively in adolescent girls. While many teenagers go through a phase of excess dieting (see intentional weight loss ), only a few actually develop anorexia nervosa. Of those who do, up to 15% die from complications of the condition. Anorexic girls tend to come from families that often talk about the "right" amounts or kinds of things to eat, and these girls may use their refusal to eat as a way to manipulate their parents. See also bulimia .
Home CarePractice moderation and maintain a balanced program in both diet and exercise. For weight loss caused by oral or dental problems, see the dentist. For weight loss caused by disease, follow prescribed therapy in treating the underlying cause.
Call your health care provider if
The health care provider will obtain your medical history and will perform a physical examination .
Medical history questions documenting weight loss in detail may include the following:
The physical examination may include a general physical examination and a measurement of the body weight.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Psychological counseling may be recommended in cases where anorexia nervosa or depression are the cause of the weight loss. In the early stages, anorexia nervosa may be best treated in a hospital with close supervision. Even after anorexia nervosa has apparently been cured, the individual should visit the doctor periodically. Relapse is not uncommon.
For weight loss caused by a chronic illness, tube feeding may be administered in order to maintain nutrition and to prevent edema , poor healing, and muscle wasting .
The patient may be referred to a dietitian for nutritional counseling.
Update Date: 5/4/2003Bridget Martell, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT