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Nausea, Diarrhea & Weight Loss

By Lynne Sheldon ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you are losing weight unintentionally, this could be the result of a variety of factors. But if you are also experiencing nausea and diarrhea, you likely have an illness, infection or a gastrointestinal condition that is causing all of your symptoms. Seek medical attention if you have noticed any changes in your bowel habits or are dropping pounds unintentionally; your doctor can determine the correct course of action.

Illness or Infection

Diarrhea is a common cause of unintentional weight loss and is often the result of an intestinal infection known as viral gastroenteritis. More commonly known as the stomach flu, this illness can also cause nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite, all of which can contribute to your weight loss. This type of infection and its symptoms typically subside within a few days, and once you resume regular eating and bowel movement habits, your weight should return to normal.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

If your stools are loose or watery for more than four weeks, this is known as chronic diarrhea, and it may be symptomatic of a gastrointestinal disorder. Malabsorption conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, or IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can lead to diarrhea, as well as nausea, changes in appetite and weight loss. Some may cause you to lose weight even if you consume the same amount of food or more than normal. This is because these conditions inhibit the way your body processes and utilizes nutrients from your food.

Other Causes

Certain drugs or medications, such as laxatives, can result in both diarrhea and weight loss, especially if you abuse them by taking more than the recommended or prescribed amount. Additionally, as you grow older, your sense of smell and taste may alter, resulting in nausea or changes in appetite, which can in turn, affect your bowel movements and weight. Finally, recent changes in diet, whether intentional or not, can also have an impact on the functions of your digestive tract, as well as the number on the scale.

When to Seek Help

If your symptoms of diarrhea persist for more than five days, you have severe abdominal pain, or become dehydrated, seek medical attention. Additionally, if you notice chronic or prolonged changes in your bowel habits, tell your doctor, as you may have an underlying malabsorption condition. Always consult your health care provider if you are losing weight unintentionally, and particularly if you have dropped 5 percent or more of your total body weight in a 6 to 12 month period.

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