Weighing yourself regularly, is a basic, conservative method of finding out if you are healthy or otherwise. Doctors advise taking weight periodically and maintaining your ideal body weight in order to avoid a host of diseases associated with being overweight or underweight. Just as it is essential to weigh yourself from time to time, it is essential to monitor sudden increase and decrease in your weight as the same could be amongst the very first few symptoms of an underlying disease. As a wise man once said – Symptoms, are in reality nothing, but a cry from suffering organs.
We discuss here what may be the possible reasons of a sudden increase or decrease in your weight. A word of caution though, this article is meant to only inform, and not to diagnose any health condition. Please do visit your doctor for a detailed check up and opinion, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed here.
Sudden weight gain
Weight gain would be considered worrisome and sudden if there are no possible explicable reasons of the same such as – weight gain during pregnancy and the weight gain of about 5 percent of total body weight happens fairly quickly – in a span of a few days to a few months. There could be multiple reasons for sudden weight gain.
- Mindless eating and being a couch potato – No prizes for guessing this one. If you are doing your calorie math all wrong, you are bound to have a bulging waist line sooner or later. Calorie math is simple, your input in terms of the calories consumed, should be enough for the body’s output or enough to put to use for its day to day functioning, repair work and wear and tear. If you consume more than what is recommended for you, you will end up storing it as fat.
- Emotional eating, eating while watching television etc. are all reasons of sudden weight gain. Coupled with little or no physical activity, the weight gain could be faster. Do ensure that the calories you consume come from both carbohydrates and fats. Include generous portions of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet and restrict the intake of fat. Make your body do chores, it was always meant to do – physical activities, walking, running etc.
Thyroid gland malfunction
- You may be suffering from a thyroid gland malfunction, in which the body produces lesser thyroid than what is required (clinically known as hypothyroidism) which decreases your metabolic rate and hence, you tend to burn calories slower than you would have otherwise. Proper treatment of this condition is very essential as left untreated, low thyroid levels could affect other organs of the body leading to a cardiac arrest or even a stroke.
- Characterized by swollen feet and ankles, this is a condition, when the body starts storing fluid, instead of using what it is supposed to and expelling the balance, there is a sudden increase in weight. Fluid retention may be a side effect of some medication or may be indicative of diseases such as kidney and heart problems. Water retention is also a common phenomenon just before menstruation. As advised by doctors, water retention as a symbol of PMS, may not be a cause of worry, if your day to day activities do not get affected by the condition and once you get your periods, fluid retention ceases to exist.
Resistance to insulin
- Fairly common in women experiencing menopause or having a hormonal imbalance, under this condition, every calorie that you consume gets converted to fat, fat cells do not burn calories as much as muscles and this leads to fat deposits and sudden weight gain.
Other hormonal imbalances
- Imbalances in hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone may direct or indirectly result in weight gain and hence need to be monitored carefully to avoid weight gain and further complications such as infertility etc. Poly cystic ovarian disorder (short form – PCOS or PCOD) is also a common problem amongst women which causes them to gain weight. Proper diagnosis and timely help could reverse the weight gain effects.
- The jury is out on this one; while some researches prove that smoking causes weight gain, a different set of research studies show, that you gain weight when you quit smoking. Either ways, smoking is very injurious to health and has absolutely no health benefits. If you are a smoker yourself, or know someone who has this deadly habit, do try and stop!
Side effects of medicines
- Medicines used to treat certain conditions could result in sudden increase in weight. Medications containing cortisol, used by patients of asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases affects the metabolic rate and increases craving, so that you eat more, resulting in weight gain. Other medicines which may lead to weight gain are anti depressants, certain kinds of oral contraceptives, steroids and medicines to control seizures etc. If you are consuming these as a part of a prescription, ensure that you do not stop the usage of these without first talking to your doctor. It would be good to discuss other alternatives with him as well.
Causes of sudden weight loss
Just as sudden weight gain could be a cause of worry, weight loss could be worrisome too. Weight loss is considered worrisome if the subject loses more than about 5 percent of his body weight in a short span of 6 months to a year.
It is essential to find out the reasons of sudden weight loss to ensure that a person is not suffering from any serious malady.
- In order to ascertain the real reason of weight loss, it is necessary to rule out eating disorders such as not eating enough, dieting, anorexia or having no or very little appetite due to peer pressure, bulimia or forcefully, voluntarily vomiting out or using laxatives as soon as you consume food, etc. and exercising too much. If the reasons of sudden weight loss are as above, it is necessary to counsel the subject, explaining clearly the long term benefits of eating and exercising right. Doctor intervention may be required too, if the condition is very bad and beyond control.
However, the problem is if the weight loss is not caused by reasons which can be explained as stated above. In which case, the weight loss may be symptomatic of deeper and larger medical problems.
- Medical conditions such as high blood sugar or diabetes, auto immune disorder where the body starts treating its own cells as an infection and starts killing the cells or attacking the organs, poor nutrient absorption capacity of the body, frequent bouts of stomach infection leading to diarrhoea and other indigestion problems , hyper thyroidism , imbalance of hormones, liver and kidney problems etc. may all need to be ruled out by conducting clinical tests and cross checking symptoms by a qualified doctor.
- Other socio psychological reasons which may cause sudden weight loss may be – substance and drug abuse, alcoholism, depression and poor family and emotional support making the subject withdraw from eating a well balanced diet and having little or no interest in life.
- Certain prescription medicines may also result in weight loss. These could include medicines used to treat seizures, psychotropic drugs used to control mind, emotions and behavior.
Whatever may be the reason for weight gain or loss, the first step is to identify it and then diagnose it correctly. The sooner the problem is detected, the better the chances of recovering from a problem. So be vigilant, listen to your body and stay healthy!