Is Spironolactone Weight Gain After Stopping It Is Real?

Does stopping spironolactone have anything to do with gaining weight? If that thought has crossed your mind, you’re not alone. In fact, it is the question of many.

Like any other drug, quitting spironolactone has some effects on your body. Spironolactone weight gain after stopping the medicine is one of those effects? Or are those extra pounds after quitting spironolactone just a coincidence? 

Those are the questions we’ll be answering today. 

Spironolactone and Weight Gain 

So, what exactly is the association between spironolactone and weight gain? Regular administration of this drug can sometimes cause weight gain. Again, some have complained of weight loss.

spironolactone weight gain after stopping it suffered by a woman
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

But it is different if you’re taking spironolactone for a long time. If you suddenly decide to stop taking this drug, there is a small chance that you will gain weight. If this happens, then weight gain occurs very fast in the first few days. 

Yet, it’s best not to jump to conclusions. Because the cause of weight gain may be unrelated to the drug as well, it is said that you can stop spironolactone with minimal withdrawal symptoms. So, if you have gained weight, it’s best to see your doctor. 

How Stopping Spironolactone Causes Weight Gain 

You may think that gaining weight can be the side effect of taking a drug. But, how does stopping a medication like spironolactone cause weight gain? There is a complex mechanism behind it. To understand that, let’s take a look at the action of the drug. 

How Spironolactone Acts on the Body 

Spironolactone is a popular diuretic. It falls under the class ‘potassium-sparing diuretic’. The reason is that it doesn’t decrease blood potassium levels. 

Other diuretic drugs may severely reduce potassium. So, drugs like spironolactone are helpful in this aspect. 

This drug is used for the treatment of various conditions. They include:

  • Aldosteronism 
  • Conn’s syndrome 
  • Heart failure 
  • Nephrotic syndrome 
  • Hypokalemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Edema
  • Acne 
  • Excessive hair growth

It may seem that the drug acts all over the body. But that isn’t true. This drug works only in the kidneys. Your kidneys consist of millions of tiny tube-like structures called nephrons. These nephrons produce urine.

Do you think spironolactone weight gain after stopping it is related to any kidney issue? Just wait for a little. 

Nephrons empty into larger tubes called collecting tubules and ducts. Blood vessels surround these ducts. And these vessels can reabsorb the fluid and ions from the urine inside the ducts. But, the reabsorption can’t happen on its own. 

Your adrenal glands produce a hormone called mineralocorticoid or aldosterone. This hormone stimulates the cells of the duct. This causes reabsorption of water and salts into the blood from the duct. So, the amount of fluid increases. 

Spironolactone is an aldosterone receptor antagonist. It means that these drug molecules can bind to the receptors indicated for aldosterone. So, aldosterone can’t attach to these receptors. Thus, its actions also stop. 

Hence, fluid and ions aren’t reabsorbed into the blood. So, the amount of urine increases. Along with that, the amount of fluid in the body also decreases.

What Happens When You Suddenly Stop Spironolactone? 

On long-term administration of spironolactone, the aldosterone balance shifts. This happens because of a negative feedback loop. Your body secretes a normal amount of aldosterone. 

But due to the drug, aldosterone does not affect. So, more aldosterone is secreted to compensate. Even then, the body can’t absorb water. 

Thus, if you take spironolactone for a long time, your aldosterone secretion increases. This results in increased blood levels of aldosterone.

So, when you suddenly stop taking aldosterone, the receptors are freed. But, the aldosterone levels have already been elevated. Thus, this excessive aldosterone causes more fluid and ion reabsorption. 

Hence your kidneys start retaining more fluid the moment you stop taking spironolactone. This accounts for the immediate weight gain which occurs. The excessive fluid is the reason why you put on those extra pounds. So, the excessive weight gain is mainly water weight. 

You may be wondering how long does rebound water retention lasts. Well, we have good news for you. The excessive water weight that you gained after stopping spironolactone will go away. Different people have different times of water retention. However, it generally takes only three to six weeks for the excessive water to go away. 

Your body’s aldosterone level will reduce overtime after stopping spironolactone. The aldosterone receptors will decrease gradually as well.

When this balance is achieved, your body won’t absorb excess fluid and ions. Then, all the extra weight you gained due to stopping spironolactone will go away.

Other Side Effects of Spironolactone 

The induced spironolactone weight gain after stopping the medication is a side effect, rarely occurs, as I already said. However, it doesn’t happen to everyone. So, if you’re taking spironolactone, you shouldn’t worry too much. 

Quitting will probably not cause severe weight gain. And even if it does, your weight will be back to normal soon. 

Aside from that, there are other side effects of spironolactone that you should be aware of. For example, stopping the drug can result in hypokalemia. 

It means too much potassium can be excreted. This will lead to ionic imbalance and other problems. 

However, it is important to note that spironolactone is a very safe drug. Quitting normally won’t cause adverse effects. But there is a small possibility that you’ll experience these. These occur more if you’ve been taking this drug for a long time. 

What are the Other Causes of Weight Gain? 

You’ve quit spironolactone and gained some weight. But is it the drug’s fault? We’ve already said that the likelihood of spironolactone withdrawal symptoms is very low. So, if you’ve put on a few extra pounds, don’t point your finger at the drug immediately because there may be other causes of weight gain. Some of them are: 

1. Sudden Change in Food Habits: 

If you have a sudden diet change, you can gain weight rapidly. Carbohydrates and fatty foods in excess can contribute to rapid weight gain. This is common knowledge.

But, another cause can be increased salt intake. High salt levels in blood retain more fluid. So, excessive salty food can be the cause of your weight gain as well. 

2. Lifestyle Changes: 

Several lifestyle changes can factor in weight gain. These include: 

  • not getting enough sleep
  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • not getting enough exercise
  • quitting smoking
  • switching to a sedentary lifestyle. 

3. Hormonal Imbalance: 

Sudden hormonal imbalance can lead to rapid weight gain. Thyroid hormone and corticoid hormone imbalance are common causes. Women with menstrual problems, perimenopause, and menopausal women can suffer from weight gain. 

4. Medical Conditions: 

Several diseases and clinical conditions can cause extra weight as well. These include:

  •  Congestive cardiac failure
  •  Renal failure and kidney disease
  •  Liver cirrhosis and acute liver disease
  •  Cushing’s disease
  •  Polycystic ovarian syndrome 

Ways to Reduce Excess Weight

Suddenly putting in the extra pounds is a sign of worry. So, it’s natural that you want to get rid of the excess weight fast. As we’ve mentioned above, spironolactone weight gain after stopping the drug occurs in a very small percentage of individuals. So, if you’ve gained weight, you should see if there may be any other causes. 

But if you’ve kept on your diet and exercised, and don’t have any other causes, then spironolactone may be the culprit. In that case, the extra weight is due to fluid retention. So, it will go away on its own in three to six weeks.

That being said, you can follow some steps to reduce water retention. These can help to bring your spironolactone water retention down. Some of these steps are: 

1. Tapering off Spironolactone:

 It is never a good idea to suddenly stop the medicine. It is especially true if you’ve been taking it for a long time. So, it is best to wean off spironolactone. You can try increasing the dosing interval to double for a week. 

Then, you can further decrease the dose next week. Or you can increase the time interval between doses. Finally, you can stop taking the drug altogether. 

2. Dietary Measures:

Several dietary measures can help you lose extra weight. These are even more effective in the case of fluid weight. They are: 

a. You can try by reducing the amount of salt you take every day. Common salt or sodium chloride has high osmolarity. This causes significant water retention. So, it’s a good idea to stop taking extra salt with your food. You should try avoiding salty food as well. 

b. Eating a balanced diet can go a long way to reducing water weight. A balanced diet with the appropriate amount of electrolytes is essential for your body. This restores the electrolyte balance within the body. So, excess water is not retained. 

c. Caffeinated beverages are helpful in case of fluid retention. They have a diuretic effect. It means that they cause the excess fluid to be excreted. So, enjoying a wonderful cup of tea or a Starbucks cappuccino will help! 

diet for spironolactone weight gain after stopping
Photo by THE 5TH from Pexels

d. There are several foods that are natural diuretics. They include dandelion, ginger, parsley, black cumin, horsetail, parsley, etc. These food items can get that extra fluid out of your body. 

e. You can also try reducing the carbohydrate and fat intake. Studies have shown that cutting down on refined carbohydrates decreases fluid retention. It can also tackle the spironolactone weight gain after stopping it. 

So, it’s best to reduce sugary food intake. You can try switching to complex carbohydrates for your energy. These include whole-grain wheat, brown rice, brown sugar, etc. 

f. Finally, you have to drink the appropriate amount of water. Reducing water intake will worsen your fluid retention. Rather, it is best to drink a healthy amount of water every day. That way, you will reduce the extra fluid retention. 

g. Some supplements help in weight loss as well. Several supplements are available that can help restore hormone balance and lose weight. 

3. Exercise:

Exercise is the key to every weight loss strategy. Being active and exercising has many beneficial effects on your body. This will help in reducing weight, whether it is fluid weight or not.

Exercising helps increase circulation and improves heart function. Also, you’re likely to lose excessive water through sweating as well. Not only that, exercising prevents fluid buildup in the legs as well. 

So, don’t worry if you feel like you’ve gained some water weight. An exercise regimen will help you get rid of that in no time!

4. Taking Care of Your Mental Health and Lifestyle:

Your mental health has a direct effect on your body. So it is important to tend to your mental health as well.

 You should try to manage stress if it’s a part of your life. Being stressed releases a bunch of chemical substances that have diverse effects. Some of them may even cause water retention. So, being relaxed can help in this case.

 You should also try to get the ideal seven to nine hours of sleep. Sleeping is the body’s way of resetting. Insomnia has been linked to the retention of fluid. So, having a healthy sleeping habit can make those extra pounds go away. 

5. Medication:

You should always speak to your doctor if you have suddenly gained weight. They can tell you if it’s water weight due to stopping spironolactone or anything else. They may even prescribe you diuretics to help the excessive fluid go away.

There are several over-the-counter water pills or diuretics. These can help in this case. However, it is always best to refer to your physician first.

FAQ

Do you gain weight after stopping spironolactone?

Yes, stopping spironolactone suddenly can cause weight gain sometimes.

How to safely stop taking spironolactone?

You can try weaning off the dose of spironolactone. For example, if you take it twice a day, try taking it once a week. Then, try taking once every other day for the next week. Finally, you can stop taking the drug altogether. 

How long do you need to stop taking spironolactone before getting pregnant?

You need to stop taking spironolactone at least one month before getting pregnant. 

Why does spironolactone make you gain weight?

Spironolactone is a synthetic steroid. So, it alters the body’s metabolism and may cause weight gain. 

What are the withdrawal effects of spironolactone?

Withdrawal effects of spironolactone are water retention, weight gain, high blood pressure, resurfacing of acne, etc.

Conclusion

Stopping spironolactone causes sudden weight gain sometimes. If you’ve rapidly gained some weight, other factors may be at play. However, weight gain is possible with long-term spironolactone administration.   

Spironolactone weight gain after stopping the drug is mostly water weight. Thus, you have to take appropriate steps. Then, in due time, the consequence will be gone. 

I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. Along the path of my life, medical science has always entranced and enticed me through it's continuous advancement. I believe being health conscious and having a wholesome lifestyle should be our utmost priority. Being a medical student, I like to share my opinions and views on different aspects of medical science in order to enlighten people with knowledge and to motivate them to become aware of their own health condition. We all need to remember that health comes first! So, I hope that my work will help out and benefit people and assist them to remain hale and hearty in their daily life. Zahin Ibnat MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College, Bangladesh

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