Causes of Unwanted Weight Loss
Reasons of Extreme Weight Loss
A sudden and drastic weight loss can be a symptom of a disease. If you have lost weight without making any restrictions on your diet or if there is no reason to increase your calorie intake in your advanced age, you should take this seriously.
Unwanted weight loss in old age is extremely risky
When people get up to the age of 65 or 70, they tend to gain weight. One factor is people move less or engage in less sports as they grow older.
In advanced age, losing weight is common but it can lead to unwanted weight loss. An unwanted weight reduction is when one loses more than 5% of his body weight in a span of 6 months.
There are various reasons for unwanted weight loss. For example, the taste becomes bland thus reduces the appetite. Many old people lose their teeth; therefore, they have difficulty chewing and lose the joy of eating. Depression, a common disorder in old age, also has a negative effect on the appetite. In a similar way, specific drugs that should be taken regularly by older people to hinder appetite.
The health significance of unwanted weight loss should not be ignored. Here are some of reasons of unwanted loss in the later years of life:
Unwanted weight loss due to neurological disorders
Anorexia nervosa or simply anorexia, an eating disorder affecting mostly adolescents and young adults can cause unwanted weight loss to the elderly. Anorexics fear gaining weight and have a wrong perception of their body.
If they are already undernourished, they still think they are too fat. The risk of death in this disease is 10 times higher than in healthy people, the suicide rate is much higher.
Unwanted weight loss due to acute and/or chronic inflammation
Acute inflammation can include infected ingrown toe nail, acute bronchitis and sepsis or blood poisoning all can lead to unwanted weight loss. Patients being treated for sepsis can have rapid breakdown of body substance and the patient becomes emaciated. They lose their ability to walk, sit or stand independently because of septic disease.
Chronic inflammatory diseases can also trigger unwanted weight loss in patients. These include rheumatic diseases, inflammatory bowel disease or certain severe diseases of the lungs, heart or liver.
In some cases, an effective treatment of the underlying disease, sometimes an organ transplant, can remedy this situation. After the procedure, patients are able to recover quickly.
Unwanted weight loss due to cancer
People suffering from cancer typically lose weight. This is because certain cancer messengers inhibit appetite. Additionally, older cytotoxin-based chemo-therapies that are rare used today cause nausea which prevents weight gain in the patient.
Today, cancer treatments are based upon antibodies against cell surface components and don’t cause nausea. But when morphine is used to treat the pain, it causes nausea and vomiting. This can be prevented by effective cancer therapy.
Unwanted weight loss due to insufficient digestive enzymes or hormones
Digestive enzymes are used in the digestive system and the lack of it in the small intestine, can lead to unwanted weight loss. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the mucous membrane of the small intestine responds with inflammation to gluten.
This triggers a loss of small intestine villi. Villi are tiny, finger-like substances that help in the absorption of nutrients. When the digestive enzymes that sit on these small intestine villi can’t do their job, the ingested food can’t be utilized. This causes diarrhea and weight loss.
A gluten-free diet helps for celiac-induced weight loss and as a result, the intestinal barrier regenerates, reforming the enzymes and normal digestion becomes doable again.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is another example of an inadequate breakdown of the diet which leads to weight loss. In EPI, there is chronic inflammation of the pancreas due to too much alcohol. Symptoms include fatty stools, osteoporosis and diabetes. There are digestive enzymes in tablet form to treat this disease.
Fructose and lactose intolerance and malabsorption are conditions in which poor food processing occur. People are unable to take simple carbohydrates because they lack the enzyme lactase that is needed to break them down in the digestive tract. Therefore, they can’t tolerate foods that contain lactose and fructose.
Though, neither lactose intolerance nor fructose malabsorption directly causes weight loss but instead flatulence feces irregularities.
Can unwanted weight loss be avoided in old age?
Many elderly people can’t tolerate large meals. It’s recommended to eat several small meals spread out throughout the day. Given that the sense of taste fades in old age, stronger flavoring is quite ideal. Eating a well-balanced diet and well-spiced food is important.