Can Colitis Cause Weight Gain?


Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can affect individuals differently. Weight changes, including weight gain or weight loss, can occur in people with colitis depending on various factors related to the disease and its management.

While it’s more common for individuals with colitis to experience weight loss due to symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite, and malabsorption of nutrients, some individuals might experience weight gain for several reasons:

  • Steroid use: Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to reduce inflammation during flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. These medications can cause fluid retention and increased appetite, potentially leading to weight gain.
  • Medications: Some medications used to manage colitis symptoms or complications might have side effects that promote weight gain. For instance, certain drugs may stimulate appetite or cause changes in metabolism.
  • Reduced activity levels: Severe colitis symptoms, such as abdominal pain or fatigue, may limit a person’s ability to engage in physical activities, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. Reduced physical activity can contribute to weight gain.
  • Treatment success: In some cases, weight gain may occur when colitis symptoms are under control. Improved management of symptoms, reduced inflammation, and better absorption of nutrients can lead to weight normalization or weight gain if someone had experienced significant weight loss during active disease periods.

It’s important to note that weight gain in individuals with colitis is not as common as weight loss. Additionally, sudden or unexplained weight changes should be monitored and discussed with a healthcare professional to ensure they’re not indicative of other underlying health issues or complications.

Proper management of colitis involves a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, dietary changes. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on maintaining a healthy weight and managing symptoms effectively while living with colitis.