Weight change is a fluctuation of body weight in the direction of decrease or increase. The condition may be accompanied by weakness, apathy, dyspeptic disorders. Weight changes are most often caused by conscious dietary restrictions, endocrine diseases, severe organic pathology and psychogenic disorders. To identify the cause of weight loss or weight gain, anthropometry is performed with the calculation of special indices, laboratory tests, if necessary, instrumental imaging methods are used: ultrasound of the abdominal cavity, radiography, CT, MRI. Therapy consists in correcting the underlying disease.
Periodic weight changes of 2-3 kg without an obvious reason are observed in healthy people and are not a symptom of pathological conditions. In most cases, the weight increases somewhat in the autumn-winter period, and then by the beginning of the warm season, the indicators return to the norm familiar to humans. Such changes are not accompanied by unpleasant sensations, dyspeptic disorders. With a significant increase in weight, the patient does not “fit” into clothes, multiple fat folds appear, the stomach sags. White or purple stretch marks appear on the skin.
With a sharp weight loss for no apparent reason, a person notices that the usual clothes become wide and hang on the body, the ribs and collarbones are very pronounced, the cheekbones sink, the eyes seem disproportionately large. The skin loses turgor and elasticity, flabby hanging skin folds are formed. Weight loss is accompanied by common symptoms: decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting, dyspeptic disorders. A decrease or weight gain of 5% or more from the initial values for no reason indicates the development of the disease and is the reason for a visit to the doctor.
Mechanism of development
The natural causes of weight change are fluctuations in the caloric content and qualitative composition of the food entering the body. Weight loss develops with a long-term choice of a diet, the caloric content of which is lower than the level of the basic metabolism. Obesity is observed with the abuse of simple carbohydrates and fats in combination with insufficient physical activity. Weight gain is provoked by metabolic syndrome, in which the level of triglycerides and LDL increases in the blood, lipogenesis (fat formation) increases. The condition is aggravated by insulin resistance.
In hypothyroidism, weight change in the direction of increase are associated with inhibition of cleavage and excessive fat deposition. A decrease in body weight up to exhaustion occurs in intestinal diseases with malabsorption syndrome, in which most of the nutrients are not absorbed in the small intestine and excreted in the feces. The condition is accompanied by severe pain and dyspepsia, which causes patients to lose their appetite. With malignant neoplasms, cachexia develops, associated with massive intoxication of the body with the products of the vital activity of tumor cells.
Classification of weight change
Depending on the leading cause, there are natural weight changes that occur during sports and dieting for weight loss or with special high-calorie nutrition in athletes during muscle growth, as well as pathological changes caused by the development of painful conditions and metabolic shifts. In clinical practice, the most common classification of weight fluctuations according to absolute numerical indicators, according to which there are:
- Exhaustion. It is an extreme degree of weight loss, when in a short time a person loses 15-20% or more of the initial body weight. The condition is accompanied by severe weakness and decreased ability to work, intolerance to physical exertion, and sometimes mental disorders. Exhaustion is detected in malignant tumors, severe gastrointestinal diseases with the inability to eat, psychogenic anorexia in women.
- Weight loss. It is characterized by a decrease in body weight by 5-15%. Occurs with a conscious restriction of the caloric content of the diet and heavy sports activities for weight loss. The most common pathological causes of weight loss are type 1 diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory or ulcerative bowel diseases, chronic autoimmune and infectious processes in the body.
- Weight fluctuations. There is an alternation of periods of reduction and weight gain with constant nutrition and habitual physical activity. Sometimes accompanied by asthenovegetative manifestations, emotional lability. Frequent causes of mass fluctuations: stressful situations (moving, problems at work, falling in love), hormonal changes in adolescence and in women during the menstrual cycle.
- Weight gain. An increase in indicators by more than 5% in a few months indicates painful conditions, changes in metabolism. With severe obesity, shortness of breath, constant fatigue occurs. Weight gain develops in endocrine diseases, severe cardiovascular pathology, in menopausal women. With lack of sleep, the disorder is associated with a lack of leptin.
A set of extra pounds or weight loss can be uniform when the proportions of the body are not violated, and disharmonious, with characteristic excessive exhaustion or obesity of certain areas of the body (for example, accumulation of fat on the abdomen with relative weight loss of arms and legs is a pathognomonic symptom of Itsenko-Cushing’s disease). The reasons that caused weight changes are divided into organic, related to diseases of internal organs, and psychogenic, due to obsessive ideas of body imperfections and dephobia – fear of getting better.