Unexplained weight and appetite loss

I don’t even own a scale, so I can’t tell you how long this has been going on. All I can say for sure is that I’ve lost about 75 pounds in the past few years based on weighings at various doctors’ offices. In fact, I’ve lost 13 pounds in the last month.
Between a recent hospital stay and follow up visits I’ve probably spoken to a dozen different doctors, and brought it up as a concern to just about every one of them. Not one of them seems at all concerned. I was considerably overweight to start with, and I’m still overweight, so they all see this as a good thing. Maybe it is, I dunno. But it hasn’t been any part of a plan or deliberate acts.

I’ve just lost much of my appetite, even for food I usually like. I don’t feel hungry enough to finish meals, or even get halfway through them. They don’t taste bad or strange to me, they just don’t seem to have any … appeal.

Any thoughts on this?

You didn’t run over an old gypsy woman did you?

In all seriousness it could be so many things, depression, increase in physical activity, cancer. You might have to specifically ask the doctor to run some tests if it concerns you.

I’ll just add if it was me I’d get it checked out I had an overweight Uncle who at his biggest was over 400 pounds and he lost his appetite and lost a lot of weight before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and dying less than a year later. Not trying to scare you but I think a lack of appetite is concerning.

I have no idea what tests to ask for. I have already expressed my concern about this to multiple doctors including my primary care physician, and I would expect them to order any tests they feel are relevant. While I’ve had a lot of tests recently, I have no idea whether any are related to this weight loss issue or for other health issues. Certainly none have said anything to me about any of the tests being related to this particular issue.

Yeah, same thing happened to my uncle. He wasn’t morbidly obese, but he had a few extra pounds. Then the weight started coming off suddenly. He went to a doctor and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was dead in less than a year.

Now then.

You probably don’t have pancreatic cancer. The thing is, my uncle didn’t start eating less. He was eating the same as before, it’s just his body wasn’t absorbing the nutrients. Your weight loss is explained because you are eating less, because you just don’t feel hungry any more. So your loss of appetite is the change, not some metabolic disorder.

Any medications this could be a side effect of?

I’m taking something now for my arthritis that has affected my appetite. So far no dramatic weight loss, but it feels weird to not be hungry all the time and I know I’m eating less.

You mentioned “various doctor’s offices”. Is there at least one doctor that you see regularly, or do you jump around? I ask because I’m very surprised that none are taking this seriously.

I don’t think anyone is trying to scare you but there are clearly some scary possibilities. My friend’s father began gradually losing weight over several months and complained of a lack of appetite. He wasn’t overweight to being with, so the changes weren’t that noticeable. He went in for test after test with no conclusion. Then one evening, he began having vomiting and diarrhea. His wife called 911, and he was off to the ER. He was dead within 30 minutes. There was no autopsy but the conclusion was that he died from septic shock. No one still knows why.

Definitely start with a review of your medications. You’re pharmacist is the best person to ask. If you’ve been having some health concerns lately, it’s likely you’ve been put on something that has contributed. Metformin being a common culprit, but painkillers, muscle relaxants and anti anxiety meds, too. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means.

Yes, it’s concerning. Yes, they’re probably not taking it seriously because you could stand to lose some weight, so the weight loss it’s a good thing…but any unexplained weight loss should be investigated. Often the investigation begins and ends with the medication list.

Sometimes you just have to tell them flat out what your concerns are and tell them what you want done. Have you had any other weird stuff going on physically or mentally. Just tell them you want to rule out any kind of cancer or diabetic related things and to run whatever tests they need to do because it’s concerning you.

If you’ve lost your appetite for no known reason, your doctors should be concerned. You should tell them straight out, “I’ve lost my appetite, and I don’t know why. I think there’s something wrong with me.”

How’s your sense of smell? I understand that a lot of people go off of food when their olfactory sense becomes impared.

Some doctors are technically fine but not so good at communication. And sometimes it’s hard to remember stuff during your appointment.

If you trust your primary care physician, I’d suggest asking him about the weight loss. Yes, that was weight you didn’t need. But you are are right to be concerned about why you lost it! Mention medicines you’re taking, any other changes in your life. And say, specifically, that you know serious diseases can cause weight loss. Maybe some of those tests ruled out specific causes–ask for details.

If you’ve had other tests from other doctors, do you have those results to present to your primary physician? Really, keep asking questions.

If your weight loss is reasonable for your diet then a lack of desire to eat is not a terrible thing. There may be some psychological aspect of this you could look into, but it sounds like you are unduly concerned about a good thing happening to you.

How old are you? Have you had a colonoscopy lately?

Eat your own pie, white man from town!


Sorry, that’s one of my favorite books/movies. Carry on with the relevant posts.

I’m going to add my own scary story (sorry), but I had a good friend who was overweight and started losing without trying. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and died within five months.

If you google “unexplained weight loss,” you’ll find some more scary stuff.

The thing is, if you ever read any of those Medical Mystery stories in the New York Times or the Atlantic, they illustrate that [del]sometimes[/del] often the patient has to be not just pro-active, but positively aggressive in getting the attention and care he needs. No one cares about your health as much as you do. Your medical practitioners can’t be expected to.

What you DON’T want to hear down the road is, “If you’d only pursued this harder a month/year ago, we could have done something about it.”

Same thing happened to a friend, only in his case it was esophageal cancer.

I’m due for one. Last one was 5 years ago, but I have an immediate family member who’s had colon cancer.

I would try to find a doctor who took it seriously. Here’s my story. About 5 years ago, I had hovered around 240 for a few years and decided to try to lose some weight. What I did was stop eating between meals and continue to follow a relatively sane portion-limiting diet that I had been following for about 10 years and under which I had lost some weight and then 20 more lbs after starting metformin (see recent thread on the subject). And it worked. I lost about 15 lbs in one year. My doctor got worried. He asked if I had changed my diet and I assured him I had. Nonetheless, he insisted I get a full abdominal x-ray. It came back negative. A year later I had lost a further 15 lbs and he wanted me to get another abdominal x-ray. I didn’t. But even though I told him I had been dieting, he still worried. Since then I have lost another 10lbs or so, but more gradually. Even though my BMI is still in the overweight range (about 27.5) he doesn’t want me to lose any more.

I would worry more about appetite loss. I haven’t seen any loss of appetite.

One of the meds I’m on (Topamax) is said to cause weight loss in many people. There’s several possible reasons for it, but one of the more interesting ones I run across when I’m reading about it is that very sugary things (like soda) taste metallic and even normal foods don’t taste quite as good. At least in part because of this a lot of people will just naturally slow down on how much junk food they eat.

Didn’t happen for me, my food has always tasted the same and my weight hasn’t changed since I started it quite a while back.

But, it’s an interesting thought since it’s not one of the side effects related to eating that isn’t tied into mood or hormones or appetite etc.