11 Reasons Why You Suddenly Gain Weight

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on May 13, 2024
macro shot photo of scale

Packing on extra weight can be as stealthy as a ninja lurking in the shadows. Often, it’s tricky, with signs so sneaky you might not catch them until it’s a big deal, and you’re chatting with a doctor. Loads of stuff can make the scale tip – some are written in your DNA, and others are all about your environment. This piece shines a spotlight on those crafty culprits of quick weight gain.

What is weight gain? 

In simple terms, it is the addition of extra kilograms on your body mass. The hormone insulin is responsible for the regulation of the glucose levels in the blood. When there is less insulin, the body cells absorb more glucose from the blood. The body then converts the excess blood sugar into fat. Thus, your body adds more weight from the increase in body fat (1).

Possible reasons why you’re gaining weight

The possible reasons for sudden weight gain can be categorized into two. We have the unintentional and intentional. Here we will deal with the accidental reasons for weight gain. 

  1. Hypothyroidism

This is a condition where the thyroid gland found at the base of the neck fails to function optimally. The thyroid gland is responsible for the metabolism functions of the body. When the regulation does not work well, the body slows down the burning of calories. The excess calories gain storage as fat in the body. This, in turn, adds weight to your measuring scale (2)

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome

Otherwise known as PCOS, it is an endocrine malfunction that triggers a hormonal imbalance in women. This imbalance makes the body produce more testosterone than estrogen. The surge in testosterone may affect the production of insulin. When the body burns less carbohydrate, the cells store it as fat, thus increasing your weight (3).

  1. Emotional disorders

Mood disorders can be a reason for your sudden weight gain. When you suffer anxiety or depression, you may likely slip into fatigue and lose focus. When that occurs, you end up using eating as your coping mechanism. Mostly you seek shelf products like processed foods for your comfort. The excess eating leads to a pile-up of excess fat into your body.

  1. Menopause

The onset of menopause can be cause for sudden weight gain. When your biological clock starts ticking towards menopause, there are many flashes of hormonal imbalances that happen in your body. This natural occurrence then makes some hormones more predominant than others. Thus sudden weight gain occurs in the perimenopause and menopause periods of your life.

  1. Cushing’s disease

This disease clinically manifests through the abnormal deposits of fats around the abdomen and facial parts. Your body releases the hormone cortisol to help you cope with extreme situations like a bereavement. When the body produces an excess count of the hormone, then the adverse effect of body fat comes. This is why cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. 

  1. Cancer

The malignant cells that grow in the body put pressure on body weight. In some cases, doctors remove a sizable tumor with a substantial weight. Most extreme cases happen with patients of ovarian or uterine cancer. Pelvic tumors are hard to notice. Thus they grow for years into a sizable mass. Due to the duplication of symptoms of pelvic tumors with other diseases, you can end up treating several different conditions while the tumor gains weight.

  1. Medication

Antidepressants are a common drug for sudden weight gain. They can trigger your eating habits into disorders. This leads your brain into pushing your body into consuming more food. In turn, you put pressure on your slow metabolism process. The final product of the new eating habit is sudden weight gain. Other drugs like birth control medication, antipsychotic pills can induce a hormonal imbalance, causing weight gain.

  1. Insomnia

When you deprive your body of enough sleep, you end up eating more. The body produces the hormone ghrelin to inform you that you need food. Lack of sleep displaces your natural hunger clock. The other hunger regulating hormone, leptin that signals your fullness, may falter. When the body cannot adequately regulate these two hormones, your eating habits become erotic. The body then turns the excess carbohydrates and glucose into fats.

  1. Quitting the smoking habit

Some doctors believe that the nicotine substance suppresses the hormones that induce hunger. So when the smoker leaves the smoking routine, the body generates a surge in hunger pangs. The sudden appetite triggers a sudden weight gain in the body.

  1. Water retention

This happens when the body cannot excrete excess water from the system. The water thus builds up in the circulatory system, body joints, and other body cavities that it finds. Kidney diseases may not help the body release its excess water by urinating. This condition can also aid in weight addition in the body. 

  1. Childbirth 

The period after delivery consists of eating for the mother. In many cultures, the mother feeds much for the child to have enough milk. Without many active movements to aid metabolism, the mother adds fat in the body. This weight gain usually goes away after some time. In some cases, the disfiguring of the body is permanent.

The adverse effects of sudden weight gain

  1. Risk of fatal diseases

In most cases, the increase in body weight comes from the excess of fat. The bulging of the body mass index creates room for other life-threatening conditions to set in. Heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes are common with extra weight gain. The excess fat can build up in the blood arteries and exert pressure on the blood flow. This can lead to clotting of blood, bursting of the arteries, or heart failure (4).

  1. Less and weak muscles

Excess fat means less muscle in the body. It will, in turn, result in weak muscles and tissues that cannot support body weight. The person is exposed to bone fractures, breathing exhaustion, and muscle fatigue (5).

  1. Poor diet

When you engage in processed food, you end up with a deficiency in your diet. If your hunger clock is not self-regulating, you end up eating anything to fill your stomach. This will increase the pressure on the nutritional deficiency. The person becomes susceptible to predatory ailments like flu, cold, and other bacterial infections. 

  1. Stress 

When you face an abrupt addition of weight, you keep wondering what to do. If you do not know the underlying cause, the stress levels go higher. This can introduce other stress-related conditions to your life (6).

Symptoms of weight gain

  1. Fatigue and exhaustion: Unexplained exhaustion is a clear sign of hypothyroidism. When the body slows its metabolism, the carbohydrates do not convert into energy. It is a clinical signal that your thyroid gland is slow in metabolism.
  2. Abnormal or painful periods: The onset of an irregular menstrual cycle is an indication that you may be having polycystic ovary syndrome.
  3. Frequent stress: If you have persistent stress, this could be depression. Headaches and migraines are also symptoms of anxiety and depression. Get your doctor to diagnose your condition instead of self-medication.
  4. Lack of sleep: Lack of sleep could be the early signs of insomnia. When you experience restless nights without any fatigue or exhaustion, see a doctor. It could be that your sleep-regulating hormones are malfunctioning. 
  5. Biological clock: When some women approach menopause, their bodies experience fluctuating estrogen levels. This imbalance can be a signal of a possible weight gain period.
  6. Lower abdomen pains: Though it is common, the bulge and pain in the lower part of the stomach could be a tumor. It puts pressure on your bladder, and you lose control of your urinary tract.

Does sudden weight gain need a doctor? 

Yes, you may need to visit a doctor when you realize sudden weight gain in your body. It may be a routine checkup or a diagnosis of a severe underlying problem. The symptoms of weight gain are many. But some common body manifestations are often ignored.  They include fever, shortness of breath, sweating, and visual impairment. If any of these conditions come with a surge in weight, kindly seek a professional opinion (7).

When you visit the doctor, you should expect several questions. These range from your body condition and the noticeable symptoms, your routine lifestyle, and medical history. Keep a journal of your health, the frequency, and intensity of your symptoms. Also, keep the doctor aware of the medication you use in arresting the symptoms. Disclose any medical visits to other doctors for professional referencing. 

When the doctor has all the information he needs from the conversation, he can do various tests. These tests will depend on the suspicion from your talk. A blood sample for laboratory tests can be done. This blood test checks the hormonal levels in the body. The diagnosis can reveal the effectiveness of the liver, kidney, and other internal organs. If the need arises, the doctor can order for an imaging scan for further analysis.

Treatment of sudden weight gain

There is no straight treatment for weight gain. The solutions are as diverse as the causes. The doctor will prescribe the medication after the results from the tests. If it is hormonal, the doctor will administer hormonal therapy. 

If the cause is the current medication for your existing condition, an alternative drug will do. Some factors will require some drastic lifestyle changes. Dieting is one of them. A proper diet to cope with your nutritional deficiency will help your body respond naturally to the condition. Water retention can be both a short and long term problem. When it is temporary, the doctor will administer drugs and a routine exercise plan for you. If it is long term, the doctor will put you on a diet, exercise, and close observation (8).

Things to remember when trying to cope with weight gain

  1. If you think that it is the current drugs that are making you add weight, consult your doctor. Never assume and discontinue taking the medication. It is the doctor who will advise on the reduction of the dosage or total replacement with an alternative. 
  2. When you are on a drug reduction weight, have your distinct calendar. Bodies respond differently. What may work well for one could backfire on another. So, keep a clear mind and never compare your progress with another person. 
  3. Never rush to self-medication. Always stick to what the doctor advises. If your condition is through water retention, then avoid high sodium products. If the internal organs are functioning well, your weight gain will subside soon. 
  4. Participate in active exercises. Frequent aerobic activities, including jogging, can help heighten the metabolic rates in your body. When you support the body regain its metabolic functions, a balance in hormones will occur. 


The issue of sudden weight gain is an underlying problem for other ailments in your life. When it happens to you, you may need to seek medical advice. With expert advice, you can get the right diagnosis and treatment. Some weight gain treatment may be routine lifestyle changes and some drugs. On the contrary, some sudden weight gain conditions could be symptoms of severe medical disease. Unless it is a common thing like adding weight after childbirth, any other complication about your weight should be seen addressed by a qualified physician. 

After all, is said and done, most medical experts advise people to leave their sedentary lifestyle and exercise. Most of these organ malfunctions are through the lives that people engage without much metabolism raising activities. Sudden weight gain will continue to affect many people. The remedy is to tone down their lifestyles and adopt a more health-conscious approach to life.










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