When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're losing weight without trying and you're concerned about it, consult your doctor — as a rule of thumb, losing more than 5 percent of your weight within six to 12 months may indicate a problem. If you're an older adult with many or more-serious underlying health issues, even a smaller amount of weight loss may be significant.

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. Imaging 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 one to six months is a reasonable next step. You may need a special diet to prevent further weight loss or to regain lost pounds.

Jan. 11, 2018

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