Causes of Rapid Weight Loss

Rapid weight loss is not only dangerous and unhealthy but it also does not last long. While intentionally losing weight in a healthy manner is a positive action, shedding off pounds quickly and unintentionally can be unhealthy. Here are some medical causes that can result in rapid weight loss.


Anorexia occurs when people start starving themselves. A severe eating disorder, anorexia can also occur due to prolonged dieting resulting in rapid weight loss. An individual is considered anorexic when his/her body weight is about 15 percent less than what his/her normal weight should be. Apart from the severe health problems that result from anorexia, it can also be fatal. The main symptom of an anorexic individual is that  his/her body weight is not in accordance with age, height and build. Some other symptoms of anorexia are brittle skin, shortness of breath, refusing to eat in public, weakness and being obsessed with calorie intake. 

Human immunodeficiency virus

The fatal virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (which causes AIDS) also leads to severe health complications that can result in poor appetite and weight loss. The immune system of an HIV positive individual has to work harder to prevent complications of HIV, which is why an HIV positive patient is advised to take energy and nutrient supplements along with a balanced diet. Rapid weight loss can occur with the shortage of food as per an HIV patient’s body requirement and the body’s extra demand for nutrients and energy, which is not met with.


Cancer is a life-threatening disease that can cause sudden weight loss. Cancer starts developing when there is an uncontrollable growth of cells, which leads to the clustering of a mass of cells called tumour. Cancerous cells can manifest almost anywhere in the body. Reportedly, cancer is a rarely occurring disease in teenage, but certain types of cancer tend to manifest in teens more than adults. Osteosarcoma, testicular cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rhabdomyosarcomas or soft tissue tumours occur more often in children and teenagers than adults. Common side-effects of cancer include rapid and unexplained weight loss, fatigue, poor appetite, pain, fever, bowel changes and persistent cough. Treatment of cancer such as chemotherapy can also be one of the reasons for rapid weight loss.  


Hyperthyroidism, a hormonal imbalance, occurs when the thyroid gland starts overproducing particular hormones, which are responsible for weight loss. Excess amount of thyroid hormone increases the metabolism rate of the body and causes rapid weight loss.

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