Diseases That Cause Rapid Weight Loss

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Rapid weight loss at any time in life should be taken as a serious sign of medical problems. Consult a physician immediately for evaluation of the causes. Weight loss is a symptom of many different diseases, and only a trained professional is able to evaluate the accompanying symptoms in order to diagnose the problem. Weight loss is usually associated with diseases that involve the stomach and the digestive system.

Crohn’s Disease

The gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed when an individual has contracted Crohn’s Disease (also known as Ileitis and Enteritis). Any part of the GI tract can become swollen, including the intestines, mouth and anus, with the infection affecting the small intestine in most sufferers. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) reports that the causes of Crohn's are unknown, although the disease is frequently shared by family members.


Hookworm infects an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The parasite enters through the skin or by ingestion. The most common infection happens when the person is exposed to the soil, either while gardening or going barefoot. While warm tropical climates see the most infections, the disease is not limited to these areas. In addition to weight loss, other symptoms include abdominal pain and lack of energy due to the decline in iron caused by the parasite.


A significant amount of weight is lost by persons newly infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This slight weight loss is often perceived to be related to influenza and is accompanied by fever, lack of energy and body aches. The sufferer experiences significant weight loss as the disease progresses. A study at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, New Mexico, done by Dr. Bruce Williams, Dr. Debra Waters and Katherine Parker, linked weight loss in HIV-positive adults with a protein calorie malnutrition that is frequently linked to starvation.

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), also known as Fatty Liver Disease, adversely affects the liver. The disease begins as an inflammation and later progresses into a hard scar tissue (cirrhosis) that hampers the organ’s ability to operate. NASH sufferers are typically overweight, and the disease creates a buildup of fat cells in the organ. According to the American Liver Foundation, when more than 10 percent of the liver is composed of fat cells, the patient has the disease. The Mayo Clinic links fatigue and upper-right abdomen pain to the weight loss as signs of the disease.

Blind Loop Syndrome

Blind loop syndrome, also known as stagnant loop or stasis syndrome, interferes with providing nutrients to the body by blocking the regular flow of food juices to the small intestine. Food is eaten and remains in the intestine at the blockage. The disorder, created by a birth defect, can result from other diseases such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease and scleroderma. In addition to weight loss, symptoms include nausea, bloating and abdominal pain.