It is normal for the weight to vary by a few kilos. If you weigh yourself in the aftermath of sports or a salty meal, the scale usually shows more than usual.
Usually, weight fluctuation is about the accumulation of fluid in the body or its evaporation. However, a sudden change in weight can be caused by a disease, even a serious one, such as a tumor. However, it is considerably more common that the reason behind seemingly inexplicable weight gain is your own lifestyle.
Food diary or doctor?
At first, it can be a good idea to keep a food diary for a week. It reveals if your own eating has changed in a way that explains your weight loss – or weight gain.
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A rapid weight loss of several kilos, for which you cannot find a clear reason, should be examined by a doctor. If the background is a serious illness, a quick response can even save a life. For example, when starting cancer treatments, every week matters.
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The thyroid is fluttering
If you also feel restless, your heart beats more violently and you sweat easily, the reason for the weight loss may be, for example, an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces the thyroxine hormone in particular, which significantly affects the body’s metabolism.
About 10,000 Finns have hyperthyroidism. The background is often the autoimmune disease Basedow’s disease, in which the body attacks its own tissues and produces antibodies against them.
Antibodies, on the other hand, incite the thyroid gland to produce too many thyroid hormones, which drive the metabolism into overdrive – and the weight falls.
Hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed with laboratory tests and is treated with a medicine that reduces the production of thyroid hormones.
A drug course lasting one and a half years usually corrects the situation, but sometimes the thyroid gland may have to be removed.
Weight gain can be a symptom of the opposite disorder of thyroid function, its failure. Up to 300,000 Finns suffer from it.
Thyroxine medication corrects the situation in most cases.
Or some other disease?
Other diseases can also speed up the accumulation of pounds. In Cushing’s syndrome, the cortex of the adrenal gland produces too much of the cortisone hormone, or cortisol. It is most often caused by a benign tumor, and the treatment is to remove that tumor. However, the problem is rare.
Sometimes a long cortisone course can also change the body’s own cortisol production and cause weight gain.
Extra pounds from medicine?
The most common mood medications, the so-called SSRIs, can increase or decrease weight. Strong drugs can also make you gain weight quickly. The medicine itself does not cause weight gain, but rather increases the feeling of hunger or weakens control over eating.
Or is it because of hormones?
The most common hormonal disorder in women is ovarian cyst syndrome (PCOS). In addition to weight gain, it is accompanied by irregular periods and abundant hair growth. The best self-care method is weight control, but increasing exercise and quitting smoking also help.
The menstrual cycle is restored to regularity with hormone therapy, such as birth control pills.
If weight starts to increase near the age of 50, hormones may also have something to do with it. In women, the decline in physical performance begins with menopause. The proportion of muscles in the tissue mass decreases, the amount of fat increases and the resting metabolism slows down. That’s why you can gain about a kilo more fat per year if you don’t change your lifestyle or exercise less.
The sharp increase in weight around fifty is rarely the result of hormonal changes alone. However, they can worsen sleep in both women and men. You can’t move when you’re tired, so extra pounds start to come on quickly. Fatigue also increases feelings.
Regardless of age and hormones, the same methods help to control weight: a regular, varied diet rich in vegetables, increased exercise and adequate rest.
Experts: André Heikius, doctor in charge, Mehiläinen NEO Weight Management Clinic. Pauliina Tuomikoski, gynecology and obstetrics specialist, Eira medical center.
This article has appeared in Hyvä tervey magazine. As a subscriber, you can read all issues free of charge from the digilehdet.fi service.
Source: Hyvä Terveys by www.hyvaterveys.fi.
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