When learning about medications and weight gain, it is crucial to understand the truth about metabolism. Some common medications that have weight gain as a side effect can include psychiatric medications, hypertension medications, diabetes medications, and epilepsy medications. In addition to the emotional and social dimension of weight gain, severe health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol can result from or worsen due to added weight. This obviously can have severe impacts on metabolism.  


If you are gaining weight and suspect your current medication may be the cause, you mustn’t stop taking the drug or switch to a lower dosage without first speaking to your doctor. The effects of medication, the truth about metabolism, and weight gain can vary, and the cause of your weight gain may not be related to your medication. Many medications can cause weight gain, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antihistamines, and diabetic medications.  


In addition to drugs prescribed to treat conditions like diabetes, depression, or bipolar disorder, some psychiatric medications used to treat conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure, seizures even migraines may also cause weight gain. Examining weight gain due to medication can be generalized as “considered weight gain,” which is an increase in body fat and muscle mass without an intentional change in diet or exercise. This can lead to other health risks, such as cardiovascular side effects, the increased metabolic risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, and even effects on 5-year mortality.  


Additionally, the added weight can cause several emotional and social dimensions, resulting in severe health conditions such as metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol, visceral adipose tissue), high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and more. 


Clinically, gaining weight is a common side effect of many medications; however, reasonable alternatives can be taken in given situations. In most cases, medications cause excess weight gain, so switching to other medications that offer the same beneficial effect without the extra pounds is essential. If you cannot change your medication, discuss ways to maintain your health and prevent further weight gain with your doctor. You should also ask your doctor about prevention strategies to avoid weight or preemptive weight gain. 


Medication can affect our metabolism and weight gain. For example, sulfonylureas are a class of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. They stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin and reduce blood sugar levels. Some medications, such as glipizide like pioglitazone, can encourage weight gain in some people. This is because they stimulate the body to produce more fat cells.  


Drug therapy is a common part of everyday life, from managing acute illnesses to treating chronic conditions. Understanding how your body metabolizes medications may explain how a certain drug works for reducing your symptoms, or whether you’ll receive any relief from it at all. In some cases, even with the same diagnosis as someone else, your dose of a drug may be higher or lower, or you may need an entirely different medication, to achieve the same relief. 


Learn the truth about metabolism, medication and weight gain 


Following these guidelines and consulting with a professional when needed will give readers all the information they need to get their metabolisms back up and running optimally! Learn more about metabolism by getting a copy of Metabolism & Medicine by Dr. Brian Fertig. 


Dr. Brian Fertig is one of the nation’s leading endocrinologists with 35 years of practice in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism. As the founder and president of Diabetes and Osteoporosis Center in Piscataway, New Jersey, Dr. Fertig’s passion for patient care and research led him to write a two-volume comprehensive book on metabolism and the human body, “Metabolism and Medicine.” Dr. Fertig’s poignant, informative monograph on metabolism is the definitive resource on metabolism and biophysical processes at all scales of the physiological journey. 

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