Related Topics: Features, Weight Loss

Medical Conditions That Can Cause Weight Gain

Weight can creep up on you at menopause but it may not be your hormones or your diet that is causing it.

AnnA Rushton

At Menopause it is sadly unfortunately inevitable that you will put on a few pounds, it is a rare woman who does not.

However although generally speaking it is hormone balance that can be behind weight gain at this time, or just poor diet, nutrition and exercise habits, have you thought that perhaps there could be another factor in your life behind it?

Hypothyroidism

If your thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, stops making enough hormones that can result in weight gain. It also could thin your hair, dry your skin, and make you feel colder, tired, constipated, and even depressed.

A simple blood test can confirm if your hormone levels are low, and supplementary hormones can help you feel better.

Depression

Weight gain and even obesity are among the possible physical side effects. People with this mood disorder often have higher levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, which may cause fat to gather around your belly. Or you may pack on the pounds because you feel too down to eat properly or exercise.

Certain medications used to treat the condition also could do it so seek help from your doctor or a therapist.

Insomnia

People who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night tend to have more body fat.  Lack of sleep can cause your body to make too much of the hormones cortisol and insulin, which can add pounds.

It also can mess up the hormones that signal hunger and make you crave food, especially those loaded with fat and sugar.

Menopause

Not strictly a medical condition, but medication is often prescribed for the hot flushes, sleep problems, and moodiness that are common at menopause and linked to changing hormone levels. Such medications such as HRT or the Pill can be the cause of weight gain.

If you are suffering hormonal fluctuations and symptoms then you may feel less like healthy eating and exercise and if you’re already sleep deprived and depressed, you might reach for a snack or chocolate instead of making a nutritious meal.

Many symptoms can be helped by restoring hormone balance so check your oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Cushing’s Disease

Usually, cortisol helps keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in a healthy range. But when your adrenal glands make too much of this stress hormone, it can add fat to your belly and the base of your neck. You might bruise more and notice weaker, thinner limbs, a round face, and big purple stretch marks.

This needs to be diagnosed and treated by your doctor to  lower cortisol levels.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There’s no one test that can tell if you have this disease but women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods , or have anovulatory periods where they are not ovulating and so not producing any progesterone.

Women also may produce more facial or body hair, acne and  cysts may grow on the ovaries.  You also could gain weight because you’re less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that helps your body turn blood sugar into energy.

Again this can be helped by addressing rebalancing with progesterone.

Congestive Heart Failure

If you have this condition, it is when your heart doesn’t pump hard enough. Sudden weight gain — 2-3 pounds in a day or more than 5 pounds a week — could mean it’s getting worse. You also might have swollen feet and ankles, a faster pulse, heavy breathing, high blood pressure, memory loss, and confusion.

You might want to track these symptoms so you can tell your doctor about abrupt changes. Together, you can adjust your treatment for better health.

Sleep Apnoea

If you’re a noisy snorer or feel drowsy during the day, it could be a sign you may have this serious condition. Your airway regularly cuts off breathing for a few seconds in your sleep. Being overweight or obese is one cause, but it can also be a symptom.

The condition could make you more likely to have liver problems, heart failure, and high blood pressure so check with your doctor for treatment.

Oedema

Feeling a bit puffy? This condition happens when your body is holding too much water, usually in your arms and legs. A limb might look swollen and feel tight and hard to move but by itself it is not usually a critical condition.

Diuretics, also called water pills, can help get rid of it if it doesn’t get better on its own but you need to work to manage the underlying cause, like heart, kidney, liver, and lung diseases, which can be quite serious so always check with your doctor.

Metabolic Syndrome

It’s a group of conditions that happens together and raises your chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body fat may be at unhealthy levels.

There might be no obvious symptoms except for extra pounds that add up around your waist but often you manage it with changes in diet and exercise as well as medicine.

Diabetes

Depending on the type, you can treat diabetes with a mix of diet, exercise, insulin, and medication. Insulin helps your body use energy. But it also makes it easier for your body to store the energy, which often can lead to weight gain.

Plus, you may be tempted to eat more to prevent low blood sugar from some of the treatments. Talk to your doctor about how to best balance diet, exercise, insulin, and medication to manage your weight and your diabetes.

Steroids

Your doctor might call them corticosteroids. and are used to treat asthma, some types of arthritis, and other conditions. The higher the dose and the longer you take steroids, the more likely they are to stimulate. your appetite.

That could lead to overeating and weight gain so always talk to your doctor about how best to manage the side effects of your steroid treatment.

Common Medications

One drug might make you hungry. Another might slow your body’s calorie burn or change the way your body absorbs nutrients. Some just make your body hang on to more water.

Sometimes, scientists don’t know for sure why a drug causes weight gain. Common examples are birth control pills, HRT, antipsychotics, antidepressants, epilepsy drugs, and beta-blockers (for high blood pressure).

Helpful information: 

If you already are aware that you have one of these conditions then do regularly check with your doctor if your condition in any way changes. If the weight gain is probably hormonal then you may find the following articles helpful.

What Signs of Oestrogen Dominance Do You Have?

Variation not moderation is the key to weight loss

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