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Abnormal Weight Loss: After Your Visit

Your Care Instructions

There are two types of weight loss—normal and abnormal. The normal kind happens when you are trying to lose weight by exercising more or eating less. The abnormal kind happens when you are not trying to lose weight.

Many medical problems can cause abnormal weight loss. These include problems with your thyroid gland, long-term infections, mouth or throat problems that make it hard to eat, and digestive problems. They also include depression and cancer. Some medicines also may cause you to lose weight.

You can work with your doctor to find the cause of your weight loss. You will probably need tests to do this.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Weigh yourself at the same time every day. It's best to do it first thing in the morning after you empty your bladder. Be sure to always wear the same amount of clothing.
  • Write down any changes in your weight and the possible causes. Discuss these with your doctor.
  • Your doctor may want you to change your diet. Do your best to follow his or her advice.
  • Ask your doctor if you should see a dietitian. This is a person who can help you plan meals that work best for your lifestyle.
  • Note any changes in bowel habits. These may include changes in how often you have a bowel movement. Other changes include the color and size of your stools and how solid they are.
  • If you are prescribed medicines, take them exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You continue to lose weight.

Last Revised: May 8, 2013

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Care instructions adapted under license by Kaiser Permanente. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.


The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.

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