diabetes & unexplained weight loss
Metabolic Health
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Unexplained Weight Loss

The prevalence of diabetes is quite high in today’s day and age and the incidence of occurrence is only increasing day by day. Not only among adults but also in younger children, diabetes is becoming more and more prominent. Several different factors are causing the diagnosis of diabetes among people all over the world. India is also among the leading countries wherein people are affected by the different types of diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are the two most common ones that are prevalent in people. There are a few other variations of this condition like Type 1.5 diabetes or gestational diabetes and even prediabetes that can occur among people depending on certain causes and factors. 

Diabetes is a complicated condition to live with. Originally, the only people who were thought of being diagnosed with this were the older population. However, since the overall prevalence has come down age-wise, the awareness of the nuanced aspects of this condition is increasing. This means that the complications and problems associated with diabetes are coming to light. It is not as simple as maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is not even as simple as making a few changes and exercising regularly. Almost every aspect of life is affected and needs to be altered upon the diagnosis of diabetes. That is how minutely it can play a role in someone’s life. Know about gestational diabetes treatment.

Diabetes naturally comes with the obvious symptoms that most people are aware of like the highs and lows in the blood sugar, loss of immunity, eyesight-related issues, etc. However, many other signs are associated with diabetes. These may not be understood predominantly as a consequence of diabetes but they are – hair loss, tiredness, fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, etc. 

Is weight loss a symptom of diabetes?

The simple answer to the question – does diabetes cause weight loss – would be yes. Unexpected weight loss may be an indication of diabetes or some other underlying health condition. Diabetes is a common metabolic disorder that has an impact on how your body utilizes sugar from diet. Diabetes is a chronic disorder that, if unchecked, may lead to a variety of health issues, including nerve damage, hypertension, cardiovascular issues and vision loss. If you have diabetes, your body either produces insufficient insulin or is unable to utilize the insulin that is produced properly. As a consequence, your blood sugar levels increase since the sugar is not transformed into energy but rather remains in your blood circulation. Your body doesn't get the necessary fuel since the sugar lingers in your blood. It starts using fat and muscle as fuel as a consequence, which may cause unexpected weight loss. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the two most prevalent kinds of the disease. Because the immune system targets insulin-producing cells, Type 1 diabetes results in little to no insulin production by the body. Early childhood is frequently when type 1 diabetes first manifests. In type 2 diabetes, the body either produces insufficient insulin or develops an insulin resistance. This kind of diabetes often manifests later in life and is considered to result from both hereditary and lifestyle factors, including being overweight and sedentary. Also know about fasting blood sugar level.

Probable Causes of Unexplained Weight Loss

The body and the weight are one of the first things that get affected when dealing with any illness and medical condition. Therefore, in case of any weight loss that is unexplained and uncalled for, it would be important to investigate it a little to ensure that it is not happening as a result of an undiagnosed condition or issue. Several different things can play a role in affecting a person’s weight. One of the first age ranges when there is a sudden, often drastic, weight loss would be right before puberty when the growing child loses all of their baby fat and becomes petite. This can still be explained as a growth spurt. 

The other medical reasons owing to which one could experience some weight loss would be the following:

  1. Diagnosis of cancer
  2. Chronic diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  3. Dementia or other conditions on the spectrum
  4. Mental health concerns like – depression, anxiety, etc
  5. Eating disorders
  6. HIV
  7. Hyperthyroidism
  8. Infections, especially in the stomach
  9. Side effects of medications like – chemotherapy, thyroid meds, and steroids.
  10. Drug and alcohol abuse/ smoking. 
  11. Malnutrition, etc

A type 2 diabetes weight loss symptom could also be the reason for weight loss. These are some of the medical conditions that could lead to weight loss that may not have any particular reason. Other factors that may not be medical like – socio-economic background, availability of resources, money/ financial limitations, etc can also lead to unexplained weight loss to a certain degree. 

Link Between Diabetes & Unexplained Weight Loss

While trying to understand the link between these two factors, one will also find the answer to the question – can diabetes cause weight loss. Since it is a chronic condition that leads to several complications within the different systems of the body, it can affect fat and weight. When there is a glucose build-up in the bloodstream, the body gets an illusion that it is starving and is being deprived of food. Therefore, it finds a way to compensate by creating energy by burning fat and muscles rapidly. This causes weight loss. Also know about Indian diabetes diet.

Diabetes results in other complications – for example – to eliminate the excess sugars in the blood, the kidneys begin to work overtime. The additional energy can cause damage to the kidneys. Other issues that can be comorbid with diabetes would be – heart conditions, diabetic retinopathy, risk of limb damage, pancreatic dysfunctions, diabetic neuropathy, etc. These conditions also use up the resources and energy within the body, and along with the medications, can cause weight loss and fatigue too. Read more about diabetes causes.

Read more about how to prevent diabetes

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Type 2 Diabetes Unexplained Weight Loss

Various illnesses bring certain consequences along with them. Fluctuations in weight are seemingly common, but if they are sudden and significant, they can be a sign of an underlying problem. If you have experienced sudden weight gain or weight loss, it could be a sign of diabetes or prediabetes. Experiencing unexplained weight loss in diabetes can be your first sign that something is wrong and you should contact your doctor immediately. So what causes weight loss in diabetes? Let’s find out. 

Insulin is a hormone that enables your body to utilize glucose (sugar) as fuel.  When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body does not utilize insulin properly and cannot deliver glucose to your cells. Instead, it accumulates in your blood causing insulin resistance.  When glucose does not reach your cells, your body believes it is hungry and seeks a means to compensate. It generates energy by rapidly burning fat and muscle which is how diabetes causes weight loss. Your kidneys will also start working extra hard to remove the excess glucose in your blood. This consumes more energy and might harm your kidneys.

Type 1 diabetes follows a similar path, but instead of being unable to utilize insulin, your body ceases production entirely. Unexpected weight loss may occur in patients with Type 2 diabetes, although it is more prevalent in people with type 1 diabetes. Unexplained weight loss can be detrimental to health. Also know about prediabetes diet.

Other Common Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is now a common condition. It is unfortunate that younger children are also getting diagnosed with it and will have to manage their symptoms and lifestyle throughout life. There can be several symptoms associated with diabetes along with does diabetes cause weight loss which can be a cause of concern for the people living with it and even the caregivers.

Here are the other common symptoms of diabetes:

  1. Frequent urination
  2. Shaking of hands/ trembling
  3. Feeling thirsty and drinking more water than usual
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  6. Dry mouth and feeling parched.
  7. Dizziness and tiredness
  8. Feeling anxious and racing thoughts
  9. Increased heartbeat and palpitations
  10. Headaches 

How Is Diabetes Weight Loss Treated?

Talk to your doctor if you notice that you are losing weight and are unsure how to put the weight back on successfully. If you want to put on some weight but are concerned about your diabetes, you should avoid eating foods high in harmful fats since doing so might make the condition worse. Instead, your doctor may recommend more insulin treatments or other medications in order to ensure that your blood sugar levels return to normal. According to doctors it is essential to keep in mind that sudden and unexplained weight loss is not normal or commonplace. It is not simply a marker of diabetes, but it may also be an indication of other health problems, such as cancer or problems with the gastrointestinal system, metabolism, or the thyroid. Visit your healthcare professional as soon as possible if you notice that you are losing weight but are unsure of the cause. 

Following a healthy diet and workout regime is the best way of gaining back muscle. You can form a diet plan which is diabetes friendly with the help of a nutritionist and visit your doctor in case you need to change your medication.

When to See Doctor?

Unexplained weight loss can be a concern that would need medical attention if it was drastic and frequent. A loss of a few kgs may not need immediate care however, in case the weight loss is so much that it causes a significant loss of energy and extreme tiredness and inability to perform simple daily actions, a visit to a healthcare professional might be required. When there is a loss of more than 5% of the total body weight within 6-12 months, that is when you might require to visit your team of doctors for guidance. 

Weight loss can also be linked to other aspects such as – fatigue, nausea, headaches, dizziness, rapid breathing, fainting, etc. Many hypoglycemic episodes in succession can also cause the body to feel weak and tired. In case these symptoms are not coming under control even if you have tried to follow your care plan, you can visit your doctor who can try to understand and explain what might be causing this. 

Make sure to note down a list of all the symptoms and get all queries answered by the doctor so that you do not miss out on anything. Also know about ayurvedic medicine for diabetes.

FAQs

1. How to prevent weight loss if you have diabetes? 

When diagnosed with diabetes, along with blood sugar, it is also important to maintain an optimal weight range. Ensure that you are eating nutritious food and on time. Do not skip out on ALL the carbs, as some carbs are necessary for the body as they provide glucose. Eat a lot of fiber and also engage in physical exercise.

2. What are the early signs of diabetes?

The early signs of diabetes would be seen in the form of prediabetes or high blood sugars (fasting or otherwise). For more symptoms, you can keep a watch for – excessive thirst, hunger, urination, blurriness in vision, palpitations, anxiety, shaking, etc.

3. What causes diabetes?

Diabetes can be caused due to a few reasons – genetic, autoimmune, unhealthy lifestyle, pregnancy (gestational diabetes), excessive stress, insulin resistance in the body, pancreatic tumors, etc.

4. What causes weight loss in diabetes?

When someone has diabetes, their bodies do not produce enough insulin, which stops glucose from the blood from entering the cells of the body to be used as a source of energy. When this happens, the body begins to metabolize fat and muscle for energy, which results in a decrease in the individual's total body mass and causes them to lose weight. 

References

  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/rapid-weight-loss-5101064
  • https://www.sutterhealth.org/ask-an-expert/answers/diabetes-symptoms-sudden-weight-loss
  • https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-you-should-know-about-unexplained-weight-loss-and-diabetes/
  • https://www.diabetes.co.uk/symptoms/unexplained-weight-loss.html#:~:text=Diabetes%20and%20sudden%20weight%20loss,reduction%20in%20overall%20body%20weight

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.