11 Health-Related Reasons for Rapid Weight Gain

  • A variety of reasons can cause weight gain and fluctuations.
  • It’s common for people to gain weight as they age or undergo lifestyle changes. 
  • However, rapid weight gain can indicate an underlying health condition, such as problems with the thyroid, kidneys, or heart.

Weight fluctuations are common in most people. However, unexplained weight gain in a very short time could be a sign of an underlying illness.

Common causes of rapid weight gain that may not be due to a health condition include:

  • High-calorie intake 
  • Menstruation
  • Perimenopause and menopause
  • Inefficient metabolism due to aging
  • Physical inactivity
  • Water retention from dehydration or excess salt
  • Mental health issues
  • Inadequate sleep

Below are 11 health-related conditions that cause rapid weight gain:

1. Medication

The efficiency of your metabolism or certain medications you take can cause rapid weight gain. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, medicines that can make people gain several pounds a month as a side effect include treatments for seizures, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, depression, and psychiatric disorders. Do not stop taking these medications without first talking to your doctor. 

2. Insomnia

According to a 2013 study, sleep-deprived people consumed more carbohydrates than needed and more calories overall, especially after dinner.

3. Quitting smoking

Some people who stop smoking gain weight initially. According to experts, it may be because nicotine suppresses appetite, and stress caused by withdrawal may cause overeating.

Research found that people who quit smoking gain an average of 1 kilogram (kg) in the first month of quitting. The researchers saw most weight gain during the first three months after quitting and eventually slowing down after six months. Still, the weight changes vary on the person. 

4. Polycystic ovary syndrome

People with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), who produce excessive levels of male sex hormones, gain weight easily in their midsection. PCOS has no cure, but you can manage symptoms through lifestyle changes and hormonal medications.

5. Heart failure

According to the American Heart Association, gaining more than 2–3 pounds (lb) over 24 hours could indicate heart failure. The person’s weight fluctuates by a few pounds throughout the day. Slow blood flow from the heart can affect other major organs’ function, causing fluid buildup in the tissues, leading to swelling and weight gain. 

6. Kidney problems

Sudden weight gain or swelling could also indicate kidney damage. Damaged kidneys cannot efficiently remove waste and fluids from the body, so they build up in the tissues instead.

7. Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis occurs when scar tissue replaces a healthy liver cell, causing fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity called ascites. A person with cirrhosis may experience rapid weight gain, develop swollen ankles, and develop an enlarged abdomen. 

8. Thyroid disorder

Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder that can slow down metabolism. Other thyroid problems can also cause fluid retention because of their effect on the kidneys.

9. Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome, or hypercortisolism, occurs when the body is exposed to too much of the cortisol stress hormone. Cushing’s syndrome is often a side effect of external triggers, like taking glucocorticoid, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and systemic lupus erythematosus. It can cause weight gain in the abdomen, neck, face, and upper back, but not on the arms and legs. 

10. Acromegaly

Acromegaly refers to the condition where the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. It usually occurs in middle adulthood. People with acromegaly have enlarged feet, hands, lips, tongue, and nose. 

11. Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer may cause pelvic pain, bloating, and sudden or unexplained weight gain. 

If you are unsure what’s causing your rapid and sudden weight gain, see your doctor. They will ask about your medical history and any other symptoms you might be experiencing. You may need to undergo a physical examination and blood tests. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist.

Source: Medical News Today

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