When you gain or lose weight unexpectedly, you might assume it’s due to inadvertent changes in how you eat or how active you have been. And most of the time, that’s probably what’s behind it.
But some health conditions can also influence weight gain or loss, either by affecting your appetite and energy levels or through other mechanisms. Some of the health conditions that can lead to weight changes are outlined below.
If you are experiencing prolonged or significant weight gain, it’s worth talking to your doctor to see if you might have one of the following conditions:
Your thyroid is a small but mighty butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. According to Dr. Gabriel Omonaiye, your thyroid produces the hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine to control the rate of different activities in your body that make up your metabolism, like how quickly you burn calories.
Omonaiye revealed that Hypothyroidism happens when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of these key hormones. This can result in a reduced metabolism that leads to weight gain.
“Other hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, difficulty tolerating cold, joint and muscle pain, constipation, dry skin, thinning hair, decreased sweating, heavy or irregular periods, depression, and a slowed heart rate, Omonaiye stated.”
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
A gynecologist, Ifeoma Onuegbu said that PCOS is one of those gynecologic conditions that may seem simple but is actually quite complex. She said that what’s most important to know is that PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can cause a wide range of issues including irregular periods, hair growth on body parts like the face, acne, infertility, and weight gain.
Although researchers are still rooting out the exact cause (or causes) of PCOS, its connection with weight gain seems tied at least in part with insulin resistance, Onuegbu told Saturday Sun.
Onuegbu said: “If you have insulin resistance, it means your body’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin, a hormone that helps keep your blood sugar stable. It also seems as though gaining a substantial amount of weight can predispose you to developing PCOS.”
Persistent depressive disorder
Depression can lead to weight gain if people eat more than usual to cope with feelings of emptiness and sadness. If you have depression, you may also have a hard time mustering enough energy to do much of anything, which can make being active harder.
Patricia Chiegboka, a psychologist said that persistent depressive disorder also known as dysthymia is when a person experiences prolonged feelings of sadness and lethargy that don’t meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.
According to her, along with these symptoms, someone with persistent depressive disorder may deal with irritability, feelings of guilt, having a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, trouble concentrating, and difficulty sleeping.
According to Dr. Alex Igho, insomnia can smash into every aspect of your sleep like a wrecking ball. You might find it impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep, or you might wake up at night and not be able to get back to sleep.
Igho stated that some obvious insomnia symptoms include being tired all the time, irritability, difficulty paying attention, and anxiety about sleep. But someone with insomnia may also experience weight gain. “For starters, your circadian rhythm impacts your metabolism, and insomnia can throw them both off. Also, the associated fatigue and potential depression tied with insomnia can make it harder to be active, Dr. Igho said.”
According to Igho, some people also often try to self-treat insomnia by drinking alcohol before bed, he says, which adds excess calories. Also, although alcohol can indeed make you tired at first, it can prevent you from sleeping deeply and wake you up at night.
Peptic ulcer disease
According to Dr. Omonaiye, peptic ulcer disease happens when sores appear on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond your stomach. He added that symptoms include pain that starts between meals or during the night, pain that pauses if you eat or take antacids, pain that lasts for minutes to hours, and pain that comes and goes for several days or weeks.
Some people may also deal with uncomfortable bloating or burping, feeling sick to your stomach, vomiting, and poor appetite. “Peptic ulcer disease in and of itself does not lead to weight changes, but eating habits may change in an attempt to deal with the pain associated with peptic ulcer disease,” Dr. Omonaiye revealed.” He also added that some people may find that they overeat or eat more frequently as that helps with the abdominal pain which can lead to weight gain.
This disorder occurs when your body makes too much of the hormone cortisol over a long period of time. Although cortisol is notorious for driving up your stress, this hormone has other tasks including regulating the way you metabolize food. So, when you produce too much of it, it can interfere with your metabolism and cause you to gain weight.
Dr. Onuegbu noted that beyond weight gain, symptoms of Cushing syndrome include deposits of fat-based tissue at the midsection, upper back, face, and between the shoulders, stretch marks due to rapid weight gain, thinning skin prone to bruising, increased body hair, and irregular or missing periods.
Congestive heart failure
This happens when your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, Dr. Omonaiye explains. As a result, blood and fluid can build up in your feet, ankles, and legs, which can cause swelling and rapid weight gain.
If you have this medical condition, Omonaiye states that your abdomen may swell as well. Blood and fluid can also back up into your lungs, leading to fatigue and shortness of breath.
He said: “Other symptoms of congestive heart failure include a rapid or irregular heartbeat, a persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink phlegm, an increased need to urinate at night, difficulty concentrating, and chest pain.” Now that you know about these conditions, see a doctor if you have one or more of the symptoms outlined in this article.