Hunger and appetite are regulated by complex interactions between endocrine, digestive, and neurologic systems, each of which sends chemical signals to the brain to determine whether it is the time to feed oneself.
Feeling always hungry or excessive hunger despite just eating is called polyphagia. It is the urge to eat more food than one’s normal calorie requirements. Polyphagia can be brought on by multiple pathologic or even physiological processes.
10 reasons you may feel hungry
Here are 10 reasons why you may feel hungry although you just ate.
- Stress: Stress often triggers bingeing behavior because of hormonal imbalances it causes. Therefore, if you are worried about an upcoming exam or important presentation or even have relationship stress, it is bound to reflect in your eating pattern.
- Pregnancy: The hormonal change in pregnancy often makes you hungry all the time.
- Inadequate sleep: Studies have proven that people who have poor quality sleep often tend to eat in excess.
- Boredom: Eating or snacking because you are bored is often a common observation.
- Crash diet: People often feel hungrier after they have followed a crash diet for some time. This is the body’s way to nourish itself back to health.
- Recuperating from illness: You may often feel bouts of hunger if you had a recent bout of illness, and the body is trying to regenerate its tissues.
- Inadequate portions of food: If you are compelled to eat smaller food portions as an attempt to diet, you may feel hungrier after a meal.
- Medications: Certain medications such as steroids, antibiotics, antidepressants, and birth control pills may alter your feeding and satiety behaviors, making you hungry.
- Jet lag: Jet lag can often mess with your circadian rhythm and make you hungry all the time.
- Obesity: Often, insulin resistance that accompanies obesity may lead to an increase in insulin secretion (hyperinsulinemia). This causes the sugar to drop shortly after an intake of a high carbohydrate meal, which may result in hunger pangs.
However, constant hunger may often point to a deeper or graver problem, ranging from acid peptic disease, body image disorders to hormonal diseases, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus. It is, therefore, important to consult your doctor and get thoroughly evaluated for your symptoms.
What are more serious reasons for excessive hunger?
- Graves’ diseases: In Graves' disease (or hyperthyroidism), the body generates too much thyroid hormone, resulting in weight loss, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, and a continual desire that is satiated by food.
- Diabetes mellitus: Another reason for hunger is diabetes, which is characterized by rapid variations in blood sugar due to insulin fluctuations in the bloodstream. Hypoglycemia is more common in people with type I diabetes. Insulin shock and coma occur in severe cases; therefore, maintaining correct blood sugar and insulin levels is critical.
- Eating disorders: Body image disorders such as bulimia can often lead to an uncontrolled urge to binge following an episode of stress or distress. This is often followed by induced vomiting. Bulimia is a serious mental health disorder that needs psychiatric care and medications at the right time.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Extreme mood swings, change in eating patterns, cravings for snacks, episodes of migraine, anxiety, and increased weight just before periods are often seen in the premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Although the condition is manageable with lifestyle modifications, good eating habits, and the right stress management techniques, severe cases of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder may need treatment of mood stabilizers.
What other symptoms might be associated with excessive hunger?
Other symptoms may accompany excessive hunger depending on the underlying disease, pathology, or condition. Symptoms that commonly afflict the digestive tract might affect other parts of the body.
Excessive hunger may be accompanied by other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:
Excessive hunger can be accompanied by symptoms from other physiological systems, such as:
- Sleeping problems
- Protruding eyes
- Weight gain or loss
Excessive hunger may be accompanied by additional symptoms that signal a dangerous ailment that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency room, such as:
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