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19 Causes of Rapid or Sudden Weight Gain

Most of us experience fluctuations in our body weight. Over time, at a certain point, gaining weight becomes pretty common. However, if someone experiences rapid or sudden weight gain without any clear reasons, there are chances that you might be having some health issues or going through certain phases of life that might be contributing to your weight gain. There are various reasons for this. Take a look further and know about the causes of rapid or sudden weight gain.

19 Causes Of Rapid Or Sudden Weight Gain

19 Causes Of Rapid Or Sudden Weight Gain

  1. Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder that can gain you enough weight since it slows down your body’s metabolism. Thyroid issues can also cause the body to retain fluid because of hypothyroidism and its effect on the kidneys. Feeling cold, dry skin and hair, constant fatigue, constipation, brittle nails, and stiff joints are other symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  2. Stress, Depression, and Anxiety

    Stress, depression, and anxiety are other conditions that result in rapid or sudden weight gain. When we get stressed, we go into fight-or-flight mode and get a surge of adrenaline and also a heavy dose of cortisol hormone, which aid us to restore energy reserves and store fat. When there is an elevated level of cortisol hormone for a long time, and our body continues to store fat, we gain weight.

  3. Insomnia

    If you are struggling with insomnia, you likely might gain rapid weight. When you sleep too little, a hormone named ghrelin increases and that signals that you need to eat and also lowers the level of the hormone leptin which signals that you are full.

    The authors of a study from 2013 have found that sleep-deprived individuals consumed foods loaded with more carbohydrates than they required, which ultimately caused weight gain in them. (1)

    A study from the year 2018 published in the Journal “Sleep” has mentioned that those who slept just one hour more per week experienced fat loss more than those individuals who slept an hour less. (2)

  4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Or PCOS

    People having PCOS might find that they suffer from weight gain easily around their mid-life. Polycystic ovary syndrome causes the ovaries to abnormally produce high levels of male sex hormones. Irregular periods, excessive hair on the chest, back, or abdomen, hair loss or thinning of hair, acne, and dark patches of skin around the armpits, neck, or breasts are some other symptoms of PCOS.

  5. Quitting Smoking

    Some individuals gain weight suddenly when they stop smoking tobacco. It is believed that this occurs because nicotine suppresses your appetite and also because withdrawal symptoms might include stress, which can make the person go for overeating.

    Research says that the average weight gain in the first month after quitting smoking is 1 kg or 2.20 pounds (3) Most people gain weight during the first three months after they quit cigarette smoking and slow the rate of weight gain reduces by six months.

    But it should also be noted that the changes in their weight can vary from one person to other. It was found from the research that 16% of people lost weight in the first year of quitting smoking, but 13% of them gained more than 10 kg or 22.04 pounds. (3)

  6. Heart Failure

    If you are gaining weight rapidly and experiencing swelling in specific areas of your body, it might be because of fluid retention and might be a symptom of heart failure.

    As per the American Heart Association, it could be a sign of heart failure if you experience a weight gain of above 2-3 pounds(lb) in 24 hours or 5 lb in 7 days. (4)

    Apart from weight gain other signs of heart failure include swelling in the ankles, stomach portion, feet, and legs; frequent coughing, feeling breathless while resting, dizziness or confusion, loss of appetite, and problem while sleeping or lying in the flat position. In case you experience any such symptoms along with rapid or sudden weight gain, you should seek immediate medical attention.

  7. Kidney Problems

    Rapid or sudden weight gain could be a sign of kidney disease, like nephrotic syndrome or kidney failure, where the kidneys get damaged. When kidneys are damaged, they are unable to properly remove fluids and wastes from the body, thus these build up in the tissues. Usually swelling because of kidney issues affects the ankles, legs, or feet. Some other symptoms of kidney problems might be fatigue, urine that looks foamy, not urinating much, loss of appetite, joint pain, muscle cramps, headaches, and problems in concentration or confusion.

  8. Cirrhosis

    If you have gained weight rapidly or all of a sudden and if your abdomen looks enlarged then it might be because of cirrhosis. This is a condition where the healthy tissues in the liver are replaced with scar tissues, and this can result in fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity. This abnormal fluid buildup is known as ascites. Along with rapid weight gain, the patients might also include breathing problems, swollen ankles, and abdominal pain.

  9. Cushing ’s Syndrome

    When the body produces excess cortisol hormone over a long time, it explains the occurrence of Cushing’s syndrome. This could cause rapid or sudden weight gain in the affected person.

    It is quite rare for an individual to develop Cushing’s syndrome if there is no external trigger. (5) This condition occurs commonly if you are taking glucocorticoids or the drugs that are taken to treat health problems like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Weight gain is most commonly seen in people with Cushing’s syndrome and usually the weight increases in the abdomen, face, neck, and upper back, however legs and arms might be thin. Some other symptoms of this condition include muscle weakness, fatigue, bruising, erectile dysfunction (in the case of males), and irregular menstrual cycle (in the case of females).

  10. Ovarian Cancer

    One of the major causes of rapid or sudden weight gain in the case of women could also be ovarian cancer. You might also experience bloating and other symptoms like difficulty sleeping, pain in the pelvis or the abdomen, unusual menstrual cycle, urgent or frequent need to urinate, and indigestion.

  11. Acromegaly

    When the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone, one suffers from a hormonal condition known as acromegaly. The primary symptoms of this condition include enlarged feet and hands. Moreover, the tongue, lips, and nose might also be enlarged. Few other symptoms of acromegaly are a deeper voice, aching joints, skin tags, obstructive sleep apnea, and excessive sweating.

    Individuals with this hormonal condition might require radiation therapy or surgery for removing a benign tumor on the pituitary gland.

  12. Menopause

    Less estrogen hormone during menopause can gain you more fat around the belly. However, this is not the only cause. Sleep problems, hot flashes, and moodiness associated with the end of the fertility of a woman might get in the way of exercise or healthy eating. When you are deprived of sleep and feel depressed, you might go for unhealthy eating habits and not consider taking a nutritious meal. This would cause you to gain weight. You should talk to your physician to help with the symptoms of menopause.

  13. Pregnancy

    If you are gaining a few pounds and feeling low, and if you suspect that you are pregnant, then you should consult with your doctor.

    As per a study that looked at the rate of weight gain in 3, 800 women it has been found that healthy women who eat without restrictions, had gained 2.2 pounds of weight on an average in their first trimester. (6)

    The American Pregnancy Association explains that the average weight gain for females is 1 pound to 4.5 pounds in the first trimester and it is 1 pound to 2 pounds in a week in the second and third trimesters. (7)

  14. Diabetes

    Diabetes can be treated with a blend of diet, exercise, medication, and insulin. Insulin aids your body to use energy. However, it also makes it easier for the body to store the energy and can result in weight gain. So, one more cause why you might be rapidly gaining weight could be diabetes.

  15. Fluid Retention

    High sodium intake can result in fluid retention, particularly for people with kidney problems, liver diseases, and heart failure. Retaining fluids can increase your weight. If you gain a large weight rapidly or all of a sudden, then you should call your doctor.

  16. Dehydration

    Sometimes dehydration could also be one of the causes of rapid or sudden weight gain. If you suffer from dehydration, your digestion and also the rate at which your body processes food into energy reduces and thus results in fatigue and weight gain. Moreover, dehydration also contributes to a slower metabolic process of the body, which might impact the ability of your body to burn calories at a higher rate.

    You should increase the amount of water that you intake to prevent dehydration. Apart from this, adding more fruits and vegetables can also have a great impact on improving dehydration.

  17. Not Taking Healthy Nutrients

    One more reason why you might be gaining weight quickly could be that you probably might not be taking enough healthy nutrients in your diet. A balanced diet is essential for the metabolism process of your body. If you are not consuming balanced meals, it might mess with your metabolism and cause you to gain weight.

  18. Excessive Workouts

    It is indeed that workouts are important for our body and mind since they enhance the release of endorphins or the happy hormones and help us in getting happier and more productive while balancing the levels of our blood sugar. However, excessive workouts can cause our bodies to store fats, because of cortisol or the stress hormone. Moreover, when we begin working out, particularly strength training, tiny muscles tear and retention of fluids can cause an increase in your weight.

  19. Corticosteroids And Common Medications

    One more cause of rapid or sudden weight gain could be corticosteroids and some common medications. Corticosteroids are used for treating asthma, specific types of arthritis, and some other health conditions. The more you take corticosteroids, the more you feel hungry and it can result in overeating and weight gain.

    Apart from these steroids, some medications like antidepressants, epilepsy drugs, antipsychotics, and birth control pills also can result in rapid or sudden weight gain. You should talk to your doctor how to manage the side effects of the medications and work accordingly.

Final Words

Weight gain can happen anytime and for a lot of reasons. Many of us gain weight with progressive age or because of certain changes in our lifestyle. However, if you are experiencing rapid or sudden weight gain and are unclear about the underlying cause, then you should talk with your doctor and develop the most appropriate treatment plan for yourself.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 15, 2022

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