Polyphagia is a term in medicine that refers to an excessive appetite or an increase in appetite. It could be a sign of various medical conditions like hypothyroidism and Diabetes, as well as hyperadrenocorticism (also called Cushing’s disease). It could also be an effect that is a result of certain drugs, including steroids and antidepressants.

In some instances, it could be an indication or symptom of eating disorders like binge eating disorder. If you’re experiencing extreme cravings or an increased appetite, you must consult a medical specialist for accurate diagnostics and treatments.

Causes

There are a variety of factors that could cause polyphagia.

Hypoglycemia

The term hypoglycemia is the term used to describe low blood sugar. Although it is most commonly seen in people who have Diabetes, however, it could happen to anyone. Find out more about the causes of hypoglycemia in people without Diabetes.

Other signs of hypoglycemia comprise:

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an illness where your thyroid is working too fast. The thyroid gland produces hormones to regulate many bodily functions. One of the main functions that thyroid hormones perform is to regulate metabolism; therefore, your appetite may increase in the event you consume excess thyroid hormone. Other signs include:

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

The hormonal changes that occur with the cycle of menstrual flow can cause you to be extremely hungry just before your period. Progesterone, estrogen spikes, and a decrease in serotonin could cause an intense craving for carbs and fats. Other signs that are a sign of PMS include:

Sleeplessness

Lack of sleep could cause your body difficulty managing the hormone levels that control appetite. Additionally, you could consume calorific foods more than you typically do if you are hungry.

Quality of sleep is important too. Sleep Apnea, as well as other disorders of sleep, may make you eat more. 

If you’re exhausted and you’re tired, you may be noticing the following:

  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Mood swings
  • Memory issues
  • Difficulties in concentration

Stress

Stress may cause polyphagia

If stressed, your body releases large amounts of cortisol, a hormone. Cortisol is a hormone that can cause you to be hungry.

The extreme hunger you experience in times of stress or anxiety could also be a response to emotional stress. You may be eating food to deal with negative emotions, consciously or subconsciously. Stress may also manifest as physical signs, like:

  • Insufficiency of energy
  • Unanswered aches and aches
  • Insomnia
  • Often a cold
  • Upset stomach

Your Diet

Fruits and vegetables are good for Polyphagia

If you consume lots of foods that contain unhealthy fats and carbs, such as white bread and quick food items, then you could get hungry very quickly after having eaten. These foods do not contain nutrients that can fill you up, including protein and fiber. You can try eating more:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Lean fish and meat

Other signs of an unhealthy diet that’s not healthy enough are:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss or thinned
  • Gums that are bleeding or inflamed
  • Trouble concentrating or recalling things

Diabetes

Polyphagia could be an indicator of Diabetes. After eating, your body converts food into glucose. It then uses the hormone insulin to transfer sugar from the bloodstream into your cells. The cells then utilize glucose to power their cells and perform regular body functions.

If you have Diabetes, it means that your body does not make insulin (type 1) or doesn’t make use of insulin in a proper way (type 2.). So, the glucose remains in your bloodstream longer and is flushed out instead of absorbed into cells. The result is that cells need to get the energy they require to perform their functions correctly. In this case, your cells tell you that you need to keep eating so that they will get the sugar they require. You may feel hungry.

Other signs of Diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss that is not explained
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow wound healing slow

People living with Diabetes are at greater risk of developing hyperglycemia because of the medication used to manage blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia could also trigger polyphagia among people with Diabetes.

When to Need Assistance 

If you experience extreme hunger, thirst, or frequent urinary frequency, it is recommended to consult a physician for an examination for Diabetes. Any of these signs could be a sign of the presence of Diabetes. It is important to consult your physician if you experience symptoms that suggest any of the possible factors that cause polyphagia or if your food habits are negatively impacting your everyday life.

Diagnosis

It is easy to diagnose polyphagia. When someone begins to notice that they’re less hungry than normal, with no other explanation, it is possible to consult a doctor. A doctor will take notes on the patient’s symptoms and may perform a variety of blood tests to diagnose the problem, including thyroid and blood sugar function.

Suppose the polyphagia isn’t believed to be caused by an issue with the medical system (such as increased appetite from more physical activities, PMS, etc. ). In that case, the condition shouldn’t necessitate additional diagnostic tests.

Treatment for Polyphagia

Treatment for polyphagia differs based on the reason. For certain people, excessive thirst or hunger is the first sign of an underlying issue; therefore, your doctor might run blood or various tests for potential medical conditions. The use of medication can treat conditions that lead to polyphagia and could even eliminate symptoms. In the case of hyperthyroidism or genetic diseases, hormone (or anti-hormone) medication is used to alleviate symptoms. In the most severe cases of hyperthyroidism, surgery may need to eliminate a part of the thyroid. The treatment for Diabetes involves the use of a variety of diet changes, blood sugar monitoring, and the regular use of insulin.

If a physician cannot determine the root cause of the physical problem, the doctor could refer the patient to an expert in mental health. Treatment for Bulimia centers on stabilizing the individual suffering from the condition, dealing with those factors contributing to weight gain, and addressing the person’s body image. People with Bulimia may require an inpatient program and medical treatment if their Bulimia is causing health issues. When polyphagia occurs in conjunction with anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders, psychotherapists concentrate on addressing the root causes that led to the polyphagia instead of the symptoms themselves.

Polyphagia is rarely seen without any other indications. But, if it does occur, it could turn into a habit. Certain kinds of therapy, as well as certain drugs, are effective in the treatment of compulsive eating disorders.

Conclusion

Polyphagia is the name used to describe an increase in hunger and eating that is not due to normal causes, like increased activity levels. It’s typically a sign of Diabetes, but it can result from other medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease and hyperthyroidism.

Beware of low and high blood sugars is the principal aim of managing Diabetes. Polyphagia is an indication of both high and low blood sugar levels. Therefore, controlling blood glucose levels will decrease the signs of polyphagia.

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