Weight loss and loss of appetite

For many of us, losing weight is welcomed! However, if you are losing weight or you have lost your appetite and there is no real explanation for this, then you should contact your GP practice.

Weight loss can occur for lots of reasons, including dieting, exercise and stress. Our weight can also fluctuate regularly and this is no cause for concern.

Unintentional weight loss, however, is something to pay closer attention to. It can be the result of depression, an overactive or underactive thyroid and cancer, including lung cancer, so if you spot a significant difference in your weight – more than 5% of your weight over a 6 -12 month period – and there is no obvious reason for this, it can be a cause for concern and you need to seek medical advice.

It is also important to contact your GP practice if you are losing weight and are experiencing other symptoms, as this might be a sign of lung cancer. Additional symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • A persistent cough
  • Chest pain.

Keshu Spotted the Difference

Like many, Keshu was happy when he first noticed he lost weight. His wife and daughter even commented on how good he looked having lost a few pounds. But then, it got them thinking. Weight loss was unusual for Keshu and when he also developed a cough, they pushed him to go to his doctor. Keshu resisted; he wasn’t a fan of the doctors. Sadly, he later went on to be diagnosed with lung cancer, leaving his loved ones with lots of ‘what ifs’?

Spot the difference in your health

It can be difficult to spot the difference with your weight, particularly if you are actively trying to lose a few pounds so we have created a symptoms tracker where you can keep a note of:

  • When you first started losing weight
  • How much weight you have lost
  • Any other potential symptoms.

You can then take this along to your doctor’s appointment to give them the fuller picture of your symptoms.

Under the guidelines of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), your GP should offer you an urgent chest x-ray if you are:

  • over 40
  • two or more symptoms including breathlessness, or
  • one symptom and have ever smoked.

Symptoms for urgent chest x-ray include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss.

If you are not offered a chest x-ray and you fit this criteria, or if you are really worried about your symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask for an x-ray, or for a second opinion.