Weight gain through medications: what to do?

The Christmas holidays, the good food on holiday or the inner pig - often the reason for one or two extra pounds on the scales is obvious. But if the pants pinch, although you have not changed diet and habits, may be behind a drug. Because some drugs can cause a weight gain as a side effect. We explain how it can lead to an increase in weight through medication and which tablets can make you fat.

Why is weight gain due to medication?

Different mechanisms can cause weight gain when taking medication: Frequently, an increased appetite as an adverse reaction leads to an increased calorie intake.

In addition, some drugs may cause dry mouth or increased thirst. Therefore, if more calorie-containing drinks are taken up, this can promote weight gain.

Furthermore, some medicines can lead to water retention, which increases the weight. Also, a direct effect of certain drugs on the energy metabolism can affect the weight. Often, however, the exact cause of the weight gain is not clear.

Which medications make you fat?

Medication works differently in every person - the occurrence of side effects is individually different and also dependent on the dosage. Also, interactions with other drugs may play a role.

There is no list of tablets that make you fat. However, there are some groups of drugs where weight gain is often observed. These include, among others:

  • cortisone-like active ingredients (glucocorticoids)
  • Medicines for mental illnesses (antidepressants and antipsychotics)
  • Insulin and other medicines for diabetes
  • hormone preparations
  • Medicines for epilepsy (anticonvulsants)
  • Hypertension medicines like beta-blockers
  • Migraines such as pizotifen and flunarizine
  • antiallergic drugs (antihistamines)
  • anti-inflammatory analgesics such as ibuprofen or diclofenac
  • certain medicines for Parkinson's (dopamine agonists)

Cortisone causes weight to rise

Cortisone-like drugs can increase weight in several ways. First, cortisone is appetizing. On the other hand, there may be water retention (edema), which manifests itself as swollen ankles and a puffy face.

When used over a long period of time, cortisone also promotes muscle breakdown, which reduces energy expenditure. However, these side effects usually only occur when taking cortisone-containing tablets. In a local application - such as a spray in asthma - the risk of weight gain is very low.

Antidepressants affect appetite

Among the drugs against depression, the so-called tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants as well as some serotonin uptake inhibitors have an appetite-increasing effect. The active ingredients fluoxetine and bupropion, however, inhibit appetite and can lead to a loss of weight.

Lithium, which is primarily used in manic depression, is particularly likely to cause weight gain. An influence on the carbohydrate and fat metabolism, thyroid function and appetite is suspected.

Valproate and carbamazepine are used in both manic depression and epilepsy and can also increase weight.

Anti-baby pill: low risk of weight gain

The anti-baby pill is often suspected to make you fat. In fact, the contained hormone progestin can increase your appetite.

In addition, estrogen is generally included with the exception of the mini-pill, which can lead to water retention and in higher doses to an increase in body fat.

However, the now available contraceptive drugs are so low doses that the risk of weight gain is relatively low.

However, hormone replacement therapy, which is used inter alia for menopausal symptoms, may involve higher dosages.

Increasing through medication - critical in diabetics

Diabetics who inject insulin often struggle with their weight. Because insulin inhibits fat burning and promotes the development of fat deposits. But some anti-diabetes medications can also lead to weight gain. These include the so-called sulfonylureas such as glibenclamide as well as active compounds with the ending -glinide or -glitazone.

Weight gain from diabetes medications is often particularly problematic, as many type 2 diabetics are already overweight and every extra kilo has a negative impact on the disease.

Possible alternatives are the so-called incretin mimetics and the active substance metformin, which promote weight loss. It is best to ask your doctor.

Thyroid medications affect metabolism

Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in energy metabolism. When given as a drug in hypothyroidism, they can lead to weight loss. However, recently reduced doses may explain an increase in weight.

So-called antithyroid drugs, which are given in hyperthyroidism, however, inhibit thyroid function and can thereby cause an increase in weight.

It is best to tell your doctor if you are experiencing a weight change while taking thyroid medications.

6 Tips To Prevent Weight Gain Through Medication

Weight gain can be an unpleasant side effect when taking medicines, leading some patients to discontinue medication themselves. This can have dangerous consequences.

If you feel that you are on medication, you should not stop taking it, but make an appointment with your specialist.

He may be able to change your medication or give you tips on what you can do to prevent weight gain. We have put together an overview of possible countermeasures for you:

  1. Changing the time of consumption: An appetite-increasing effect may be avoided if the medication is taken at bedtime. Ask your doctor, if an evening intake would be possible.
  2. Dehydrator for edema: Some medicines for high blood pressure can lead to water retention. Combination with the dehydrating and hypotensive agent hydrochlorothiazide may counteract edema. However, you should never take your own drainage medication, but discuss it with your doctor.
  3. Changing medicines: There are alternative medicines for many diseases that pose a lower risk of gaining weight. Ask your doctor if another medicine is suitable for you.
  4. Drugs against dry mouth: Dry mouth as a side effect can lead to the consumption of sugary drinks. Instead, grab sugar-free candies or chewing gum.
  5. Changing diets: Even though weight gain may be due to a drug, current weight-loss measures can help: A well-balanced, low-calorie diet rich in vegetables and whole grains, as well as an evening meal of carbohydrates, can help you gain weight.
  6. Exercise: Any form of exercise can help prevent weight gain. Targeted strength training also increases the buildup of muscle energy turnover even at rest.
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