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Senior Health

Weight loss

05/14/2007

Question:

I am a 73 year old male and my doctor keeps telling me I need to gain weight. If I miss a meal I loss a couple of pounds. What could be causing this problem and what tests should I ask my doctor to perform?

Answer:

Weight loss is due to several reasons in the elderly including metabolic factors (diabetes, thyroid dysfunction), chronic infections, chronic inflammation, cancer, depression and several medications. More information is needed to specifically answer this question. I suggest basic blood tests (complete blood count, Comprehensive metabolic panel to include renal and liver functions, Thyroid function test (TSH), B12 levels, Folate levels, Sed rate), urine analysis and culture and Chest X-ray for a start. A Yesavage geriatric depression scale may reveal information on depression, if any. Also, review medications including over the counter products the patient may be taking.

Hope this helps.

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Response by:

Arvind   Modawal, MD, MPH, MRCGP Arvind Modawal, MD, MPH, MRCGP
Professor of Family & Community Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati