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Health and Fitness News

Beneath the Weight

Wonder why you’re gaining weight? It may be an underlying medical condition.

You’re eating the same and getting your normal amount of exercise, but you just keep gaining weight. Any weight gain is frustrating, but it’s especially annoying when you’re eating healthy and staying active. Just like unexplained weight loss, unexplained weight gain may be attributed to a medical problem. Treat the condition and you’ll likely stop gaining or losing weight.

If the scale is going up for no apparent reason, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible, because one of these health conditions may be to blame.

Gainer 1: Hypothyroidism

Unintentional weight gain is often traced back to a hormone imbalance. One hormone that affects weight is your thyroid hormone.
When your thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, you may feel cold, tired, and weak and notice dry skin, thinning hair, and painful joints.

Because your thyroid hormone helps regulate your metabolism, a decrease in thyroid hormone may lead to a slowed metabolism and weight gain. An underactive thyroid is called hypothyroidism, a condition older women are most at risk for experiencing. Hormone replacement therapy can help treat hypothyroidism and reverse the weight gain.

Gainer 2: Cushing’s Syndrome

Extreme, prolonged stress may develop into Cushing’s syndrome, a condition that exposes your body to high amounts of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to weight gain. Cushing’s syndrome can also be caused by overactive adrenal glands that produce too much cortisol, a tumor, or from long-term steroid treatment. Weight gain from cortisol is found most often around the neck, face, waist, and chest.

Gainer 3: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women may be able to blame unexplained weight gain on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). When the ovaries fail to keep hormones balanced, women may experience weight gain, irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth.
PCOS increases resistance to insulin. As you gain weight, you produce more insulin. This insulin increase leads to more weight gain, particularly round the belly. This cycle is difficult to overcome, but regular exercise, diet, and medication can help restore balance.

Gainer 4: Insomnia

Have trouble sleeping at night? Then you shouldn’t be surprised if you begin gaining weight. As with some other causes of weight gain, your hormones are to blame here. That’s because the amount of sleep you get has a direct effect on the hormones that regulate appetite. Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy food cravings, impulsive food choices, increased appetite, and a slowed metabolism. Getting just one less hour each night can contribute to weight gain, even if you’re eating the same amount of calories.

Gainer 5: Perimenopause and Menopause

As many women know, the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause can lead to weight gain. Typically beginning in a woman’s 40s, estrogen levels rise and fall. These fluctuations cause weight gain, irregular periods, mood swings, and hot flashes. Combined with the normal affects of aging (increased body fat and a loss of muscle mass), hormonal changes can pile on the pounds. Continue to stay active and talk with your doctor about possible treatments.

Gainer 6: Medications

A medical condition may not be directly causing your weight gain, but the medication you take to treat a medical condition may be to blame. While helping you deal with other medical conditions, many over-the-counter and prescription medications come with the possible side effect of weight gain.

Common weight-gaining culprits include anti-depressants, psychiatric medications to treat bipolar disorder, beta blocker drugs that treat high blood pressure, insulin and other drugs used to manage diabetes, seizure medications, drugs used to relieve migraines, allergy medications, and steroids that help control inflammation in conditions such as lupus, asthma, and arthritis.