Sievering Surgical Clinic

Sieveringer St 9, A-1190 Vienna Tel: 328 8777

Gastroenterology Unit

Weight loss

Diagnosis & Treatment

Unintentional weight loss

Patient information on digestive disorder



Exact evaluation of unintentional weight loss is, albeight in some cases difficult, essential since it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, formostly in the elderly patient


The leading causes of involuntary weight loss are depression (especially in residents of long-term care facilities), cancer (lung and gastrointestinal malignancies), cardiac disorders and benign gastrointestinal diseases. Medications that may cause nausea and vomiting, dysphagia, dysgeusia and anorexia have been implicated. Polypharmacy (uncalculable amount of medication in some cases) can cause unintended weight loss

Causes of abnormal weight loss

There are many causes of unintentional weight loss including:


  • Altough some patients may realise themselves that they have lost weight family or friends will notice first a change.

  • A thorough history and examination are essential in establishing the underlying cause and identifying appropriate investigations.

  • Associated symptoms may include:

    • Gastrointestinal symptoms.

    • Lethargy, weakness.

    • An underlying condition, e.g. chronic infection, heart.

    • Alcohol or drug abuse.

    • Anorexia nervosa.

Differential diagnosis

Severe generalised muscle wasting is also seen as part of a number of degenerative neurological and muscle diseases and in cardiac failure.


  • A thorough check-up isimperative.

Investigations will depend on the context of the weight loss and should endoscopy and autoimmune disease screen.


| 25.01.2011 | Read more | Print |


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