Why Do Bedridden Patients Lose Weight?

While there are several reasons why someone might become bedridden, the main reason behind their reduced activity level is likely weight loss. If a patient is unable to come off the bed due to illness or injury, then it is all but certain that they will lose a significant amount of weight. In fact, it might even be considered a clinical phenomenon called “activity reduction weight loss” due to the close connection between decreased physical activity and reduced food intake. As a result of restricted activity and a disconnection between eating and feeling full, bedridden patients often experience rapid weight loss.

If this sounds like somebody you know or somebody you care about, then it’s time to step in and do something about it. Fortunately, there are measures that you can take to not only prevent further weight loss but even to help your bedridden patient gain weight and get back on their feet again.

Weight Loss Is Common

The truth is, nearly everyone experiences some sort of weight loss over the course of their lives. Some people are more likely to experience weight loss than others, but it’s a fact of life for everyone. It begins with age, as we naturally lose a small amount of weight as we get older. Then there are the health issues. If a patient is struggling with their weight, then it’s almost certainly because there’s a medical reason behind it. This could be due to a disease such as Cushing’s syndrome or diabetes mellitus, or it could be caused by post-natal depression. There are also many different types of cancer that also cause weight loss due to the metabolic effects of the treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Many People Experience Morbidly-Complicated Pneumonia (MCP)

One of the most common reasons why people lose a lot of weight is due to Morbidly-Complicated Pneumonia (MCP) or “pneumonia-lung” as it’s often called. MCP is an infection that spreads throughout the lungs and is usually caused by a bacterial infection. It’s fairly common for someone to develop MCP following a pneumonia episode and it can be a major cause of post-pneumonia weight loss. This is because there’s a lot of muscle in the lungs that are needed to help a person breathe, so getting those muscles back after they’ve been used isn’t easy. The good news is there are treatments for MCP, and with proper medication and rest, most people with MCP can regain their body weight.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is another disorder that often causes rapid weight loss. It’s fairly common for someone to develop anorexia after a severe episode of cystic fibrosis. In fact, it’s often considered to be the “fantastic fibrosis” of our time. The disease is characterized by extreme food vigilance, or an obsession with food and weight loss. If someone you know is suffering from anorexia nervosa, then it might be a good idea to get them the help they need. Some people with anorexia nervosa also suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism, which make them even more susceptible to the disease. For those who don’t have these medical conditions, then they’re mostly at risk for anorexia nervosa if they don’t get the proper treatment. Fortunately, there’s a lot of hope for people with anorexia nervosa, and it’s often possible to treat the condition and restore the patient’s weight.


Obesity is another condition that causes rapid weight loss, especially in adults. It’s often times associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. There are many different types of obesity, but the ones that cause people to lose a lot of weight are often times the “binge-eating” varieties. These are the types of obese people that eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time. They then feel “overwhelmed” or “crushed” and must “vent” their feelings in the only way they know how: by eating even more. This cycle often leads to a clinical depression known as “bingescence”. In other words, if somebody you know is obese, then chances are they’re going through a rough patch in their life. The best thing for them is to get the help they need and deserve.

Heart Failure

Certain medical conditions can also lead to heart failure, or the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively. One of the most common causes of heart failure is coronary artery disease. If a patient experiences heart failure, then it’s often due to an acute event such as a heart attack or stroke. However, it’s often the subsequent recoveries that are most difficult for patients to cope with. This is because they’re often dealing with “post-heart attack” or “post-stroke” syndrome, which causes significant physical and mental distress. The fact that heart failure can be caused by so many different factors means there’s a lot of room for treatment and recovery. There are a variety of heart medications and the use of advanced cardiac devices that can help improve the condition and the patient’s quality of life.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is often a major contributor to weight loss in adults. It’s often the case that “digital nomads” or “gym rats” who travel the world as internet entrepreneurs and Instagrammers lead an inactive lifestyle and are therefore at risk for weight gain. If a patient leads a sedentary lifestyle, then it’s often because they don’t want to be “active” or “physically involved” in life. They want to “consume” digital content and “get clicks and likes” on their Instagram stories. The problem with this is that these habits are not only bad for their health but they also make it more difficult to get the needed food when they are feeling overwhelmed or depressed. This is why it’s important to get these individuals the help they need and to give them the courage to lead a more active lifestyle.

Chronic Illness

It is also often the case that patients suffering from chronic illnesses lose a lot of weight. One of the most common reasons behind this is because of the side effects of the medications they’re prescribed. The truth is, a lot of medications have significant side effects and many patients don’t want to take them because of how they might affect their appetite or how they might change the way they look. Patients with chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis will often lose a significant amount of weight even though they don’t necessarily want to. The best thing for these individuals is to try and find a medication that doesn’t cause significant weight gain, at least not as a regular occurrence.


Finally, inactivity is another major cause of weight loss in adults. It’s often the case that “digital nomads” lead an inactive lifestyle and are therefore at risk for weight gain. Inactivity can also be a side effect of certain medications or it might even be caused by a chronic illness. Inactivity often means a lack of physical activity, which leads to more weight gain. In general, inactivity is a huge problem in the U.S., especially among adults. We need to do better as a society in terms of encouraging and supporting physical activity. Luckily, there are a variety of ways that you can encourage your patients to get fitter and move around more. Even simple things like getting them a fitness tracker or pairing them with a personal trainer can help.