Unexplained weight loss has many causes, medical and nonmedical. Often, a combination of things results in a general decline in your health and a related weight loss. Sometimes a specific cause isn't found.

Usually, an unrecognized cancer will have other symptoms or abnormalities of laboratory tests, in addition to unexplained weight loss.

Potential causes of unexplained weight loss include:

  1. Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
  2. Cancer
  3. Celiac disease
  4. Changes in diet or appetite
  5. Changes in sense of smell
  6. Changes in sense of taste
  7. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation — worsening of symptoms
  8. Crohn's disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease)
  9. Dementia
  10. Dental problems
  11. Depression (major depressive disorder)
  12. Diabetes
  13. Heart failure
  14. HIV/AIDS
  15. Hypercalcemia
  16. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  17. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) (underactive thyroid)
  18. Medications
  19. Parkinson's disease
  20. Peptic ulcer
  21. Substance abuse (alcohol, cocaine, other)
  22. Tuberculosis
  23. Ulcerative colitis

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Aug. 11, 2020

See also

  1. 6 tips to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
  2. Acanthosis nigricans
  3. Addison's disease
  4. Adjuvant therapy for cancer
  5. Adrenal fatigue: What causes it?
  6. Alcoholic hepatitis
  7. Alternative cancer treatments: 10 options to consider
  8. Amputation and diabetes
  9. Amyloidosis
  10. Angina
  11. Anorexia nervosa
  12. Antidepressant withdrawal: Is there such a thing?
  13. Antidepressants and alcohol: What's the concern?
  14. Antidepressants and weight gain: What causes it?
  15. Antidepressants: Can they stop working?
  16. Antidepressants for children and teens
  17. Antidepressants: Side effects
  18. Antidepressants: Selecting one that's right for you
  19. Antidepressants: Which cause the fewest sexual side effects?
  20. Artificial sweeteners: Any effect on blood sugar?
  21. Ascariasis
  22. Aspergillosis
  23. Atypical antidepressants
  24. Atypical cells: Are they cancer?
  25. Bezoars: How do they happen?
  26. Bile reflux
  27. Binge-eating disorder
  28. Biopsy procedures
  29. Infographic: Blood Cancer Awareness
  30. Blood glucose meters
  31. Blood glucose monitors
  32. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate for many reasons
  33. Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how
  34. Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes
  35. Bone cancer
  36. Dr. Wallace Video
  37. Build resilience to better handle diabetes
  38. C. difficile infection
  39. Caffeine and depression: Is there a link?
  40. Caffeine: Does it affect blood sugar?
  41. Cancer
  42. Cancer blood tests
  43. Myths about cancer causes
  44. Infographic: Cancer Clinical Trials Offer Many Benefits
  45. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
  46. Cancer diagnosis? Advice for dealing with what comes next
  47. Cancer-related fatigue
  48. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  49. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  50. Cancer surgery
  51. Cancer survival rate
  52. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment
  53. Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment
  54. Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
  55. Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment
  56. Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide
  57. Cancer treatment for men: Possible sexual side effects
  58. Cancer treatment for women: Possible sexual side effects
  59. Cancer treatment myths
  60. Cancer Vaccine Research
  61. Carcinoid tumors
  62. Caring for a loved one with diabetes
  63. Castleman disease
  64. Celiac disease
  65. Celiac disease: Can gluten be absorbed through the skin?
  66. Celiac disease diet: How do I get enough grains?
  67. Chase away the winter blues
  68. Chemotherapy side effects: A cause of heart disease?
  69. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  70. Chronic myelogenous leukemia
  71. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  72. Cirrhosis
  73. Clinical depression: What does that mean?
  74. Colon cancer
  75. Colon Cancer Family Registry
  76. Colon cancer screening: At what age can you stop?
  77. Colon cancer screening
  78. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  79. Coronary artery spasm: Cause for concern?
  80. Crohn's Crisis
  81. Crohn's disease
  82. Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?
  83. Crohn's or Colitis
  84. Cryptosporidium infection
  85. Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
  86. Cyclospora infection
  87. Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?
  88. Depression, anxiety and exercise
  89. Depression: Diagnosis is key
  90. Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap
  91. Depression (major depressive disorder)
  92. Depression: Provide support, encouragement
  93. Depression: Supporting a family member or friend
  94. Dermatomyositis
  95. Diabetes
  96. Diabetes and Alzheimer's
  97. Diabetes and dental care
  98. Diabetes and depression: Coping with the two conditions
  99. Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar
  100. Diabetes and fasting: Can I fast during Ramadan?
  101. Diabetes and foot care
  102. Diabetes and Heat
  103. Diabetes and menopause
  104. Diabetes and summer: How to beat the heat
  105. Diabetes and travel: Planning is key
  106. Diabetes and electric blankets
  107. 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications
  108. Diabetes diet: Should I avoid sweet fruits?
  109. Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan
  110. Diabetes: Does alcohol and tobacco use increase my risk?
  111. Diabetes foods: Can I substitute honey for sugar?
  112. Diabetes and liver
  113. Diabetes insipidus
  114. Diabetes management: Does aspirin therapy prevent heart problems?
  115. Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar
  116. Diabetes: Eating out
  117. Diabetes nutrition: Sweets
  118. Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control
  119. Diabetes symptoms
  120. Diabetes treatment: Can cinnamon lower blood sugar?
  121. Medications for type 2 diabetes
  122. Using insulin
  123. Diabetic Gastroparesis
  124. Diabetic neuropathy
  125. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  126. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  127. Cancer-related diarrhea
  128. Does stress make rheumatoid arthritis worse?
  129. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  130. Dysphagia
  131. Early HIV symptoms: What are they?
  132. Ease rheumatoid arthritis pain when grocery shopping
  133. Eating during cancer treatment: Tips to make food tastier
  134. Ebola transmission: Can Ebola spread through the air?
  135. Ebola virus and Marburg virus
  136. Esophageal cancer
  137. Infographic: Esophageal Cancer
  138. Ewing sarcoma
  139. Fibromuscular dysplasia
  140. Fish oil and depression
  141. Gallbladder cancer
  142. Gastroparesis
  143. GI Stents
  144. Giant cell arteritis
  145. Giardia infection (giardiasis)
  146. GLP-1 agonists: Diabetes drugs and weight loss
  147. Glycemic index: A helpful tool for diabetes?
  148. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  149. Graves' dermopathy: How is it treated?
  150. Graves' disease
  151. H. Pylori
  152. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection
  153. Hairy cell leukemia
  154. Heart cancer: Is there such a thing?
  155. High-dose vitamin C: Can it kill cancer cells?
  156. Histoplasmosis
  157. HIV/AIDS
  158. Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease)
  159. Hodgkin's vs. non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: What's the difference?
  160. How do I reduce fatigue from rheumatoid arthritis?
  161. How opioid addiction occurs
  162. How to tell if a loved one is abusing opioids
  163. How to use opioids safely
  164. Hyperinsulinemia: Is it diabetes?
  165. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  166. Hypopituitarism
  167. Infographic: Innovative Rectal Cancer Treatments
  168. Insulin and weight gain
  169. Insulin therapy options
  170. Intensive insulin therapy
  171. Intestinal ischemia
  172. Is depression a factor in rheumatoid arthritis?
  173. Depression and diet
  174. Kidney cancer
  175. Kidney Cancer
  176. Infographic: Kidney Cancer
  177. Kratom for opioid withdrawal
  178. Late-night eating: OK if you have diabetes?
  179. LADA
  180. Preventing lead exposure
  181. Lead poisoning
  182. Leukemia
  183. Lexapro side effects: Is breast tenderness common?
  184. Liver cancer
  185. Infographic: Liver Cancer
  186. Living better with rheumatoid arthritis
  187. Low blood counts
  188. Lung cancer
  189. Infographic: Lung Cancer
  190. Lung nodules: Can they be cancerous?
  191. Male depression: Understanding the issues
  192. Diabetes and carbs
  193. Mangosteen juice: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
  194. MAOIs and diet: Is it necessary to restrict tyramine?
  195. Marijuana and depression
  196. Measles Virus as a Cancer Fighter
  197. Mesothelioma
  198. Mild depression: Are antidepressants effective?
  199. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  200. Monoclonal antibody drugs
  201. Mort Crim and Cancer
  202. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope
  203. Multiple myeloma
  204. Infographic: Multiple Myeloma
  205. Natural remedies for depression: Are they effective?
  206. Nervous breakdown: What does it mean?
  207. Neuroblastoma
  208. No appetite? How to get nutrition during cancer treatment
  209. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  210. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  211. Norovirus infection
  212. Opioids and other drugs: What to watch for
  213. Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
  214. Living with an ostomy
  215. Pain and depression: Is there a link?
  216. Palindromic rheumatism: Precursor to rheumatoid arthritis?
  217. Pancreatic cancer
  218. Infographic: Pancreatic Cancer: Minimally Invasive Surgery
  219. Pancreatic Cancer Survivor
  220. Pancreatic cancer treatment: Why is it so challenging?
  221. Infographic: Pancreatic Cancers-Whipple
  222. Pancreatitis
  223. Peptic ulcer
  224. Pheochromocytoma
  225. Photodynamic therapy: An effective treatment for lung cancer?
  226. Pituitary tumors
  227. Polymyalgia rheumatica
  228. Postpartum thyroiditis
  229. PrEP to prevent HIV
  230. Prescription drug abuse
  231. Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  232. Protect your joints while housecleaning
  233. Pulmonary fibrosis
  234. Pyloric stenosis
  235. Reactive hypoglycemia: What can I do?
  236. Reading food labels
  237. Rectal cancer
  238. Recurrent breast cancer
  239. Rethinking Rheumatoid Arthritis
  240. Rheumatoid arthritis
  241. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  242. Rheumatoid arthritis: Does pregnancy affect symptoms?
  243. Rheumatoid arthritis and exercise
  244. Rheumatoid arthritis: Vaccines
  245. Rheumatoid arthritis diet
  246. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?
  247. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
  248. Rheumatoid arthritis medications: Dangerous during pregnancy?
  249. Rheumatoid arthritis pain: Tips for protecting your joints
  250. Salt craving: A symptom of Addison's disease?
  251. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  252. Choosing a light box
  253. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  254. Self-Image During Cancer
  255. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  256. Service dogs assist with diabetes care
  257. Sheehan's syndrome
  258. Blood sugar testing
  259. Radiation simulation
  260. Small cell, large cell cancer: What this means
  261. Stomach cancer
  262. Infographic: Stomach Cancer
  263. Super Survivor Conquers Cancer
  264. Takayasu's arteritis
  265. Tapering off opioids: When and how
  266. Tapeworm infection
  267. Teen depression
  268. Thalidomide: Research advances in cancer and other conditions
  269. The dawn phenomenon: What can you do?
  270. Throat cancer
  271. Thyroid disease: Can it affect a person's mood?
  272. Thyroid nodules
  273. Tips for coping with rheumatoid arthritis
  274. Tips for cutting costs of blood glucose test strips
  275. Tips to make your mornings easier
  276. Toxic hepatitis
  277. Treating pain: When is an opioid the right choice?
  278. Treatment-resistant depression
  279. Tricyclic antidepressants and tetracyclic antidepressants
  280. Tuberculosis
  281. Tumor vs. cyst: What's the difference?
  282. Type 1 diabetes
  283. Type 1 diabetes in children
  284. Type 2 diabetes
  285. Type 2 diabetes in children
  286. Typhoid fever
  287. Ulcerative colitis
  288. Ulcerative colitis flare-ups: 5 tips to manage them
  289. Use these tips to help children prevent diabetes
  290. Valley fever
  291. Vasculitis
  292. Vegetarian diet: Can it help me control my diabetes?
  293. How cancer spreads
  294. How diabetes affects your blood sugar
  295. PICC line placement
  296. Video-kidney cancer patient-tattoo
  297. Vitamin B-12 and depression
  298. Vitamin deficiency anemia
  299. What are opioids and why are they dangerous?
  300. When cancer returns: How to cope with cancer recurrence
  301. Whipple's disease
  302. Your secret weapon during cancer treatment? Exercise!
  303. Fecal transplant treatment of C. difficile at Mayo Clinic
  304. Mayo Clinic study reporting increased incidence of C. difficile infection
  305. Kidney Cancer — Bradley Leibovich, M.D., Mayo Clinic
  306. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome