When you’re struggling to lose weight, the reasons are usually clear: you’re eating too much, choosing the wrong foods, and/or not exercising enough. But what if you feel like you’re doing everything right and the pounds still won’t budge? What if, in fact, you’re continuing to gain weight?
It may be time to look beyond diet and exercise for the root cause of your problem. Many medical conditions can make weight loss nearly impossible, some of them quite serious. If you’re experiencing unexplained weight gain, make an appointment with your doctor to take a closer look at what’s going on.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone that helps regulate hunger and weight. It’s directly related to how much body fat you have; the more fat you’re storing, the more leptin is in your bloodstream, sending signals to modify your appetite so your caloric expenditure and intake match up. People who have leptin resistance aren’t getting those helpful signals and thus still feel the need to overeat even as the pounds creep up.
Medical News Today reports that problems with your kidneys can also cause you to gain weight, even though they also cause loss of appetite. Kidneys that aren’t functioning properly aren’t able to rid your body of fluid and waste, which then build up in the body’s tissues. If this is happening to you, you’ll notice swelling primarily in your legs, ankles, and feet. You may also be urinating less frequently and when you do, your urine might appear frothy.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
People suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome may notice unexplained weight gain around their middle region. This condition is believed to be caused by an excess of the male hormone androgen and low-grade inflammation, according to the Mayo Clinic, and can also result in acne, unusual hair growth on the back, chest, and face, male pattern baldness, and cysts on the ovaries. Although there isn’t a cure for this condition, it can be managed with lifestyle changes and hormone therapy.
Depression can cause a cascade of symptoms that directly impact your weight. Depression is linked with the stress hormone cortisol, says WebMD, which can make excess weight gather around your stomach. People with depression frequently suffer from sleep problems and low energy and may turn to food or substances for relief, all of which can cause weight gain. Even medication to alleviate depression can cause weight gain, although some options don’t have that side effect.
The thyroid is an endocrine gland in the neck that regulates many of the body’s automatic functions, including metabolism, body temperature, and heart rhythm. Hypothyroidism occurs when the activities of the thyroid slow down, causing weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, and the sensation of being cold. According to the American Thyroid Association (thyroid.org), hypothyroidism can be diagnosed with blood tests and, if detected, successfully managed through medication.
According to the American Heart Association, rapid weight gain is one of the leading signs of heart failure. While everyone experiences mild weight fluctuations on a daily basis, a sudden weight gain of over 2 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week could be a sign that your heart is in trouble. Heart failure occurs when your heart can’t pump blood efficiently. Other symptoms include dizziness, chest pains, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and swelling in your ankles, legs, and feet. Get medical help immediately if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
Getting your weight under control is a good goal. But when you aren’t seeing any progress, it’s time to talk to your doctor to rule out underlying causes.