Polyphagia: Excessive Hunger

What Is Polyphagia?

constant hunger

Polyphagia, also known as hyperphagia, refers to excessive hunger. Patients suffering with polyphagia constantly feel the compulsion to eat, no matter how much they have already eaten. This can lead the patient to eat an excessive amount of food, resulting in severe medical consequences. Polyphagia is not necessarily a condition of its own, but rather a symptom. While feeling more hungry than usual is very common, actual polyphagia is less common and is often indicative of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor that causes excessive hunger.

Causes

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Depression
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Inadequate protein consumption
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • A diet lacking in fiber
  • Diabetes
  • Exercising a lot
  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications

Types

There is only one type of polyphagia.

Symptoms

  • Excessive hunger
  • Inability to feel full after eating
  • Constant need to snack between meals
  • Rapid and excessive weight gain

polyphagia

Diagnosis

Your primary care doctor can diagnose polyphagia based on your reported symptoms. To determine the cause of your excessive hunger, they will likely order numerous diagnostic tests including blood panels and diagnostic imaging. They may also refer you to specialists depending on the suspected cause. They will also ask you many questions about your lifestyle to see if there are any easily-identifiable factors that can cause extreme hunger.

Treatment

Treating polyphagia depends entirely on the cause. If your excessive hunger is caused by an underlying condition, treating or managing that condition can help resolve the polyphagia. Excessive hunger caused by lifestyle factors like lack of sleep or exercising can be resolved if you amend those factors in your life. Trying to get more sleep or changing the time you exercise can help you feel less hungry.

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