What is excessive hunger?

Hunger and appetite are regulated by complex interactions among our endocrine, digestive, and neurologic systems, each of which sends chemical signals to the brain to tell it when you are hungry and full.

Excessive hunger is characterized by the need for increased food intake above your usual caloric needs. It may be caused by disorders in the systems that regulate appetite and blood sugar or by circumstances such as pregnancy. Excessive hunger can also be attributed to endocrine conditions, such as Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism, in which the body produces excess amounts of thyroid hormone, resulting in weight loss, hyperactivity, insomnia, or constant hunger that is unsatisfied by eating.


Hypoglycemia is another cause of hunger and is caused by rapid fluctuations in blood sugar that lead to excessive insulin in the bloodstream. People with diabetes are especially prone to hypoglycemia. Severe cases are known to cause insulin shock and coma, so proper control of blood sugar and insulin levels is essential.

Hunger also has an emotional and mental component. Some people eat more when they are sad, depressed, stressed, or anxious. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, sedatives, and birth control pills, are also associated with increased appetite.

Hypoglycemia can progress into more-severe complications, such as insulin shock, if left untreated. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you or someone you are with is experiencing potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as convulsions or seizures, trembling, confusion or loss of consciousness, or pallor.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with excessive hunger?

Excessive hunger 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.

Gastrointestinal symptoms that may occur along with excessive hunger

Excessive hunger may accompany other symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal system including: Read more about excessive hungersymptoms

CAUSES

What causes excessive hunger?

Excessive hunger is the need for increased food intake above your usual caloric needs. It may be caused by disorders in the systems that regulate appetite and blood sugar or by conditions such as pregnancy.

Excessive hunger can also be attributed to endocrine conditions, hypoglycemia, or psychological factors.

Hormonal/endocrine causes of excessive hunger

... Read more about excessive hungercauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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: Digestive System


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