Evaluating Your Weight (cont.)
The problem is that you may not realize that you're losing weight. Even caretakers may not notice because the changes can be gradual, says Jean Lloyd, RD, national nutritionist for the U.S. Administration on Aging. But if you're at risk of losing too much weight, you have to pay attention.
Since it's often hard for people to pay attention to these details on their own, especially when they're coping with an illness, it's important to get help from the people around you -- family, friends, or caretakers.
What Puts People at Risk of Unintentional Weight Loss?
Any illness that affects your appetite, digestion, mobility, or energy level can put you at risk of losing too much weight. Many types of cancer -- such as cancer of the throat, jaw, mouth, or colon -- can have a direct impact on your ability to eat. But researchers believe that any type of cancer can cause your metabolism to speed up, meaning that you'll need to eat more calories just to maintain your weight. Cancer treatments -- medication, radiation, and chemotherapy -- can also cause a loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. These side effects can cut down on your nutritional intake, Lloyd says.
Medical conditions can also impose physical barriers to good health. If you've got severe arthritis, you know that something as simple as opening a jar or a box of cereal can be next to impossible. Getting out of the house can be tough.
"When you have to start depending on others for your basic needs, like groceries, you're at increased risk of malnutrition," Lloyd tells WebMD. The isolation that can come with some illnesses can be a risk in itself, sometimes leading to depression.