Fluctuations in weight are normal however if you’ve gained weight in a short period of time, it is likely due to an underlying cause. Please note, if your weight gain is affecting your quality of life and you do not know the cause, we strongly recommend seeing a family physician. In the meantime, here are a few possible causes which may help to provide an easy answer as to why you’ve gained weight.
1. Quitting smoking
As wonderful as quitting smoking is, one of the drawbacks is that it can result in weight loss or gain. That’s because nicotine suppresses appetite. Take that away and add the stress of quitting smoking, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for overeating. Thankfully, most of the weight gain associated with quitting smoking happens in the first three months with health stabilizing after six months.
2. Pharmaceutical medication
Several medications are known to cause weight gain and fast, while others may cause you to gain weight slowly. Some of the possible medication which may be responsible for your change in weight include anti-depressants, psychiatric medications, high blood pressure medications, seizure-related medications, and anything related to diabetes. If you’re worried a medication is impacting your weight in a negative fashion, speak with a doctor to help determine whether it’s warranted to stop taking the medication or if it can be switched out for something else.
3. Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be responsible for your weight gain around the middle. That’s because PCOS causes the ovaries to produce abnormally high levels of male sex hormones. If you have PCOS, unfortunately, there is not a cure however through lifestyle changes it may be possible to reduce symptoms and subsequently help to eliminate some of the weight.
A lack of sleep can cause people to put on extra weight. A change in sleep patterns can negatively affect eating patterns and mood, resulting in someone overeating. Sleep-deprived people tend to eat more carbohydrates than necessary to meet their energy needs, hence weight gain.
If the abdomen looks enlarged and you’ve experienced a recent gain, you may have cirrhosis. This occurs when you have scar tissue on the liver which replaces the healthy tissue, which results in fluid build-up. Other symptoms may include swollen ankles, breathing difficulties, and abdominal pain.
6. Heart failure
Rapid weight gain or swelling can be due to fluid retention which might be a sign of heart failure. According to the American Heart Association, any weight gain of more than 3 pounds over a 24-hour period or 5 pounds in a week could be a sign of heart trouble. This type of weight gain may appear in the stomach, ankles, legs, or feet, and is generally accompanied by symptoms like frequent coughing, fluid collecting in the lungs, feeling breathless, dizziness or confusion, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping.
7. Thyroid disorder
Hypothyroidism slows the metabolism which can result in weight gain and cause the body to retain fluid. Other symptoms can include constant fatigue, feeling cold, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, constipation, and stiff joints and aching muscles.
8. Kidney trouble
If your kidneys are not functioning correctly, the body may retain more fluid hence the weight gain. This usually affects the legs, ankles, or feet. Other references that it could be your kidneys include fatigue, not urinating very often, urine that is foamy, itchiness, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, headaches, and difficulty concentrating or confusion.
9. Cushing’s syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body produces too much cortisol, a stress response hormone. Fortunately, it’s rare to develop Cushing’s syndrome without an external trigger and usually the result of glucocorticoids used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, or lupus. Weight gain in the abdomen, neck, face, and upper back are common, with Cushing’s syndrome.
Acromegaly is a hormonal condition occurring when the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. It results in the enlarging of the feet and hands, although the lips, tongues, and nose may also become enlarged. Other symptoms may include aching joints, a deeper voice, skin tags, excessive sweating, and obstructive sleep apnea.
11. Ovarian cancer
Sudden or unexplained weight gain and bloating may be a sign of ovarian cancer. General symptoms include pain in the abdomen, difficulty sleeping, frequent urge to urinate, loss of appetite, an unusual menstrual cycle, and indigestion. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer typically reaches the later stages without detection. If you are experiencing pain in the pelvic region, always speak to a doctor.
Sometimes, weight gain is the result of age – simple as that. As we age we tend to lose muscle mass as we become less active. Muscles are an effective calorie burner. The less we have, the less calories we burn, assuming you are eating and drinking the same amount. Thankfully, to reduce muscle loss, all someone needs to do is get active, exercise, and they should be able to stave off the hands of time.