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)
  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.

Jan. 11, 2018

See also

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