When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're losing weight without trying and you're not sure why, consult your doctor — especially if you lose 5 percent of your weight within six to 12 months. If you're a frail, older adult, talk with your doctor for even a smaller amount of weight loss.

Your doctor will work with you to try to determine what's causing the weight loss. At first that will involve a thorough history, a physical examination and basic laboratory testing. Full body scans to look for hidden cancers are not usually helpful unless some other clue points in that direction.

Sometimes, if the basic evaluation is negative, watchful waiting for a few months is a reasonable next step. You may need a special diet to prevent further weight loss or to regain lost pounds.

Aug. 26, 2014