At what point does (potentially) unexplained weight loss become a medical issue?

(Disclaimer: I know you’re not my doctor, I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled but it’s two months away and I’d like some info before that. I won’t take anything you say seriously. I will listen to what my doctor says. I know you’re all a bunch of faceless Internet yahoos who will give me false information and I promise to believe not a word of it.)


That said, Mr. Athena is a worrywart, and he’s driving me nuts because I’ve (gasp!) lost weight without trying much. He’s certain I have some horrible disease; I’m thinking there’s a lot of reasons why this weight is gone, and I’m pretty fookin’ happy it is.

I’ve lost about 18-19 pounds over the last year and a half. The first ten pounds of that was right after I quit a desk job. I had put on ten pounds when I started that desk job, so to me, it makes sense that working in an office makes me fat, and when I stopped, my eating habits changed, and I dropped the weight over about a year.

At that point (which was about last February), I started working out more. We temporarily moved to a place about a mile from downtown, and we’d walk there and back at least 6 days a week, and usually a bit longer than that. So I dropped another few pounds over the 2.5 months we lived there. Then we moved back home, and it was summer, and I bought a new bike. I biked a lot - let’s say an average of 4 hours a week, hard enough to be VERY sweaty when I was done - and another 5 pounds or so was gone.

Now, it’s getting cold, and I haven’t worked out much over the past month. Maybe 1-2 times a week, and not at all in the past week. I’m still dropping, albeit slowly - I’d say on average I’m between a half pound and a pound lighter than I was a month ago.

So, am I dying? Is anything about this odd? For what it’s worth, I’ve never lost a pound in my life without working incredibly hard at it, so it seems a bit unusual to get to a point in my life where it’s coming off rather easily, but it’s not like there’s no explanation. I know I eat better when I’m not working outside the house (not as many tasty tempting lunch items, and I’m free to cook more dinners), so I’m sure that’s part of it.

I think neither of us would be worried except for the fact that I still seem to be losing even without working out. But I guess to me, it’s slow enough that it doesn’t worry me. Mr. Worry-Wart, on the other hand, is losing sleep over it.

As I said at the beginning, I’m going to the doctor but it ain’t anytime soon. I’m also far from a waif - my BMI is slightly over 25, and I’m a good twenty or thirty pounds away from skinny.

Should I join him in worrying?

That’s not unexplained weightloss. The exercise you’ve been doing very likely put more muscle on you and improved your metabolism. You’re burning off more calories as a result even if you’re not actively exercising. Including the other changes in your lifestyle, I’d say dropping a pound a month is perfectly expected.

Hypothyroidism can cause “unexplained” weight loss but there’s a heap of other symptoms that come with that. The (random) link has a list.

I agree with Antinor01, tho. It’s most likely that your metabolism is in great shape.

Mr. Athena is not worried, he’s just jealous :wink:

ETA: You can get your thyroid function tested very easily with a simple blood test.

Well, I agree with the two of you as well. But Mr. Worry Wart won’t stop worrying.

I’m thinking that I better just start eating lots & lots of Halloween candy. That’ll shut him up.

I lost twenty-five pounds in two weeks when I became a diabetic, so 20 pounds over a year is probably no biggie.

Ahh, now we see what you were after. I suppose it’s as good an excuse as any. :smiley: Enjoy!

I believe you meant hyperthyroidism. And while there are other symptoms associated with it, when I developed Graves Disease the weight loss was by far the most obvious symptom. (But I lost a hell of a lot more than 20 lbs. in a year. Try two months.)

Anyway, the answer to the question “should I go to the doctor?” is always yes. Most of us Americans have this whole thing about not wanting to appear foolish or selfish of the doc’s time, so we never go when we should. But it’s not your job to determine if your condition is serious enough to warrant treatment – unless you went to medical school, you’re not qualified. So go to the professional. At worst, you waste a few hours and a few bucks and get peace of mind.