What is weight gain?

Some types of weight gain are related to a natural process rather than a disease. For example, it is normal (and even necessary) to gain some weight during pregnancy, and weight gain accompanies normal growth in children. However, unplanned or unintended weight gain may become problematic and should be addressed. In most cases, taking more calories into the body than your body can use causes unintended weight gain. When you reach middle and older ages, weight gain is a common symptom as your metabolism slows, unless this is countered by conscientiously eating less than you did when you were younger as well as getting adequate exercise to use the calories you do take in.

By the same token, weight gain can also be a symptom of a number of disorders affecting any of several body systems, including the endocrine, cardiac, urinary, neurologic, and respiratory systems. In particular, weight gain that is sudden and rapid can be a sign of dangerous levels of fluid retention by the body due to heart or kidney disease. In addition to a variety of diseases, certain drugs can also cause weight gain. Examples of these include certain antidepressants, corticosteroids, lithium, tranquilizers, phenothiazines, and drugs that increase fluid retention.

Because most weight gain is a symptom of caloric intake exceeding caloric need, it is important for you to get in the habit of paying attention to proper nutrition, learning portion control, and developing a consistent but varied regimen of exercise.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience unintentional or rapid weight gain with swelling (edema) in the face, arms, legs, feet, ankles, or abdomen; seizures; severe headache; nausea and vomiting; shortness of breath; tremor; or rapid heart rate.

If your weight gain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with weight gain?

Weight gain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems.... Read more about weight gainsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes weight gain?

Weight gain can be a natural result of fluctuations in hormonal processes, such as the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. However, most cases of unplanned or unintended weight gain are caused by taking in more calories than the body can use. Certain drugs can also cause weight gain, and unintended weight gain can be a symptom of a number of medical conditions or disorders. Weight gain that is sudden and rapid can be a sign of dangerous levels of fluid retention by the body.... Read more about weight gaincauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet