Medical Conditions That Cause Weight Loss, Sweating and Fatigue
Physical symptoms indicate the presence of disease, illness or a medical condition (See Ref 1). Symptoms may cause pain or discomfort and often are persistent and unexplained. Unexplained symptoms, especially those that appear in clusters, may cause enough worry to warrant a visit to a doctor. Understanding common symptoms that occur together -- such as sweating, fatigue and weight loss – can help with your decision about seeking medical attention.
Sweats: Excessive sweating not related to warm conditions or physical exertion usually indicates a medical condition. Constant or profuse sweating can cause discomfort and embarrassment and also can cause dehydration. Daytime sweating that involves the underarms, soles or palms, and is not caused by a medical condition, is called focal hyperhidrosis.
Focal hyperhidrosis does not occur during sleep. Sweating that involves large areas of your body and occurs while awake and during sleep usually results from the side effects of medications or a medical condition. Common causes of sweats are the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause, overactive thyroid, fever, and generalized anxiety disorder. Other causes are heart attack, cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune diseases and endocarditis (See Ref 2).
Fatigue: Fatigue may occur after physical exertion, stress or sleep deprivation; however, prolonged or chronic fatigue that is not relieved by sleep, usually points to an underlying medical condition. Your fatigue may be related to a physical condition, such as an underactive thyroid, if you wake up and your level of energy quickly declines with activity.
Depression might be the cause if you wake up with fatigue that continues throughout the day. Medical conditions that can cause fatigue include anemia, chronic pain, sleep disorders, substance abuse, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
Fatigue might indicate congestive heart failure, fibromyalgia, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Medications, such as antihistamines and diuretics, may experience fatigue as a side effect (See Ref 3).
Unintentional Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss might be caused by depression, substance abuse or an eating disorder. Some medications can cause weight loss. Medical conditions that cause unintentional weight loss include HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes. Weight loss can cause nutrition problems, muscle wasting and other serious conditions. MedlinePlus recommends seeing your doctor for unexplained weight loss that occur with other symptoms or that exceeds 5 percent of your normal weight over a period of 12 months or less (See Ref 4).
Alcohol Abuse: Abusing alcohol or being an alcoholic can cause some or all of these symptoms. Many times someone that drinks a lot of beer will have that noticeable beer gut, but others that drink a lot of beer all day long can lose a lot of weight and become very skinny. This is usually due to the fact this person would rather drink alcohol instead of eating a healthy diet, and end up eating very little food, and they food they do eat is usually poor quality processed or fast food.
Alcohol can also cause sweating, especially night sweats. Excessive sweating can also occur during the day because the body is trying to get rid of all of the alcohol a person is drinking. The body sees alcohol as a toxin or poison and the body is trying to get rid of it.
Fatigue is another sign of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. A person that drinks alcohol all day will suddenly feel tired during the day and just lies down and goes to sleep. Upon waking up they will reach for another beer, just to feel better and quickly get over the withdrawal of not drinking alcohol for the time they were asleep. Alcohol can also cause poor night sleeps leading to fatigue during the day.
Co-occurring Symptoms: Chronic sweats, fatigue and unexplained weight loss are serious symptoms alone since each can cause serious consequences, such as dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. When these symptoms occur together, they can indicate the presence of serious underlying medical conditions, some that are life-threatening illnesses. The co-occurrence of sweats, fatigue and weight loss might be symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, HIV/AIDS, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, tuberculosis or diabetes.
Medical Care: Your doctor can determine the medical response required if you exhibit sweats, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Prepare for an appointment by noting when your symptoms occur, how much weight you have lost and to what extent fatigue has affected your ability to function. Note any other symptoms you may be experiencing and list all medications you are taking. A full picture of all activities that could cause your symptoms can help your doctor make a diagnosis.
MayoClinic.com: Excessive Sweating
MedlinePlus: Unintentional Weight Loss