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13 Sudden, Rapid Weight Loss Causes


Losing weight is good. But, when you lose weight without any change in your diet or doing any physical exercise, it could be a matter of concern.

Sudden, rapid weight loss without any effort could be due to underlying health conditions or stress caused by life events like divorce, breakup, or losing someone close to you.

Sometimes, you might lose weight due to general causes like a poor diet or messed up a work schedule.

But losing an unusual amount of weight in lesser time could be due to various other health issues.

Causes of sudden weight loss could be plenty. They could either be medical or non-medical.

Longer periods of weight loss could lead to malnutrition in which underconsumption of nutrients could be experienced.

Thus, in this article, you will discover some of the various causes of sudden, unexpected weight loss.

Causes Of  Sudden And Rapid Weight Loss

Here are a few of the main causes of sudden rapid weight loss-

  1. Muscle Atrophy

    Muscle loss is the thinning of muscle tissues arising[1] due to underutilizing muscles.  Sometimes, people who have medical conditions may experience excessive weight loss.

    People with sedentary lives who do not work out enough or have desk jobs tend to experience muscle atrophy.

  2. Addison’s Disease

    Known as adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease is experienced[2] by men as well as women of different age groups.

    The failure to produce enough hormones like cortisol or aldosterone by the adrenal glands above the kidneys is called Addison’s disease.

    Symptoms like extreme fatigue, excessive weight loss, abdominal pain, and nausea could appear in the person and may usually develop slowly.

  3. Diabetes Mellitus

    One of the common causes of sudden weight loss in type 1 diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus.

    This autoimmune disease is a condition[3] where the immune system targets the insulin present in the pancreas and destroys it.

    Frequent urination flushes out excessive glucose from the body along with calories which leads to excessive loss of weight.

    Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus include frequent urination, excessive thirst dehydration, etc.

  4. Depression And Anxiety

    Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety could cause weight loss in people. Sometimes, feeling sad or disconnected from the world could go on for weeks.

    This might make the person feel like he or she is a burden to the world and might sink into chronic depression.

    Depression affects the appetite of a person. It might make you not eat at all or may you hog on meals. It depends from person to person.

    Symptoms of depression include lack of interest in hobbies, never socializing, suicidal thoughts, sadness, always sulking, etc.

  5. rheumatoid Arthritis(RA)

    In rheumatoid arthritis, the white blood cells attack the connecting tissues present[4] in the lining of the joints which might accelerate joint pain and inflammation.

    Such severe pain in the joints and chronic inflammation might speed up metabolism and reduce appetite leading to weight loss.

  6. Amyloidosis

    It is a rare condition that might cause sudden and rapid weight loss.  Though weight loss is common, more research[5] is needed on the nutritional status.

    In this medical condition, the building up of a protein called amyloid disturbs the shape and size of various tissues and organs.

    Symptoms include fatigue, changes in skin color, swelling of the tongue, shortness of breath, etc.

  7. Infective Endocarditis

    Infective endocarditis is the fatal inflammation of the heart valve lining due to bacteria that enters the bloodstream and starts to attack the heart valves or chambers.

    Symptoms of infective endocarditis include loss of appetite, muscle and joint aches, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

  8. Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs. It is caused[6] by mycobacterium tuberculosis which could also be spread from person to person through the air.

    Latent TB is when the TB germs are present but they are unable to make you fall sick.  Active TB, on the other hand, is when the germs could make you fall sick.

    The antibiotics, however, could help in treating TB but if timely medical attention and medicines are not provided, this disease could pose some serious life-threatening concerns.

  9. Ulcerative Colitis

    The inner lining of the colon develops[7] chronic inflammation in ulcerative colitis. It is an inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.

    In inflammatory bowel disease,  the hunger hormone, ghrelin is reduced[8] which might reduce the appetite and cause weight loss.

    Symptoms like abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, etc. could be experienced by a person with ulcerative colitis.

  10. Cancer

    Cancer is any of a wide range of illnesses characterized by the growth of aberrant cells.

    These cells can invade and damage healthy bodily tissues.

    It is frequently possible for cancer to spread throughout your body as these cells can divide themselves at a frequent rate.

    Symptoms of cancer include[9] sudden weight loss, trouble urinating, fatigue, numbness of lips, change in the breast size, neurological problems like headaches, etc.

  11. HIV

    The human immunodeficiency virus of HIV is an immunity disorder, In this condition, the body is unable[10] to fight infection as the body’s immune system is damaged.

    When HIV is left untreated, it could lead to other serious problems like AIDS, which is the advanced stage of HIV.

    Symptoms of HIV include fever, muscle aches, night sweats, chills, fatigue, mouth ulcer, etc.

  12. Celiac Disease

    It is an autoimmune condition in which the consumption of gluten could negatively affect the small intestine.

    It is advisable to avoid gluten if you have celiac disease as the immune systems could experience trouble absorbing nutrients leading to weight loss.

    The celiac disease includes other GI symptoms like gas, bloating, etc.

  13. Pancreatitis

    Another cause of sudden, rapid weight loss is that you may[11] have pancreatitis. The pancreas produces enzymes that aid in digestion.

    Pancreatitis could result[12] in malnutrition and weight loss, even after consuming a normal diet and food.

    Any issue in the pancreas could disturb the whole production of digestive enzymes that might result in weight loss.

When To Seek Medical Help?

Unintended weight loss could be because of illnesses that are not yet diagnosed.

You should visit a medical professional if you are losing weight even when you are not even trying to lose weight.

In case you have lost a considerable amount of weight more than 5 to 6 kgs within a month without any diet change or exercise, you should get your bloodwork done. 


Thus, it could be concluded that however fancy losing weight might sound to you, excessive weight loss without an explanation is a dangerous thing.

While people like being slim, unhealthy and sudden weight loss might be a bearer of bad news.

Therefore, immediate attention should be given to it and proper consultation with the healthcare professional should be done.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Muscle atrophy. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003188.htm
  2. Sadaf Munir; Bryan S. Quintanilla Rodriguez; Muhammad Waseem. Addison Disease. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441994/
  3. Jessica Lucier; Ruth S. Weinstock. Diabetes Mellitus Type 1. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507713/
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/rheumatoidarthritis.html
  5. Prayman T. Sattianayagam, Thirusha Lane, Zoe Fox, et al. A prospective study of nutritional status in immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis. Haematologica. 2013 Jan; 98(1): 136–140. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2012.070359
  6. Tuberculosis. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/tuberculosis.html
  7. Ulcerative Colitis. Available from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/ulcerative-colitis
  8. Firas A. Ghomraoui, Sami T. Alotaibi,1 Meshal A. Alharthi, et al. Plasma ghrelin and leptin in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and its association with nutritional status. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2017 May-Jun; 23(3): 199–205. doi: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_575_16
  9. Symptoms of Cancer. Available from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/symptoms
  10. HIV/AIDS. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/hivaids.html
  11. Pancreatitis. Available from https://medlineplus.gov/pancreatitis.html
  12. Anna Evans Phillips, Kohtaro Ooka, Ioannis Pothoulakis, et al. Assessment of Weight Loss and Gastrointestinal Symptoms Suggestive of Exocrine Pancreatic Dysfunction After Acute Pancreatitis. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2020 Dec; 11(12): e00283. Published online 2020 Dec 15. doi: 10.14309/ctg.0000000000000283

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