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Appetite - increased
Definition Hunger is a desire for food and is normal. Hyperphagia and polyphagia refer to eating to the point of being focused only on eating (gluttony), or excessive eating before feeling full. These can be symptoms of various disorders.
Alternative Names Hyperphagia; Increased appetite; Hunger; Excessive hunger; Polyphagia
Considerations Both psychological and endocrine (gland) disorders can cause this symptom, which is fairly common. Polyphagia can be intermittent or persistent and depending on the cause. It may or may not result in weight gain .
Common Causes
  • Anxiety
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Bulimia
  • (most common in women between ages 18 and 30 years old)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Graves' disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • (
  • IDDM )
  • Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)
  • Drugs -- such as corticosteroids, cyproheptadine, and tricyclic antidepressants
  • Home Care Emotional support, and in some cases psychological counseling, are recommended. For drugs that cause increased appetite and weight gain , ask your health care provider if you can decrease the dosage or discontinue the medication. CONSULT WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE CHANGING MEDICATIONS.
    Call your health care provider if
  • There is an unexplained, persistent increase in appetite.
  • Other unexplained symptoms accompany the problem.
  • What to expect at your health care provider's office A history will be obtained (with emphasis on eating habits) and a physical examination performed. Once determined, the underlying cause will be treated. Medical history questions documenting increased appetite in detail may include:
  • Eating habits
  • Have you changed your eating habits?
  • Have you begun dieting?
  • Do you have concerns about your weight?
  • What do you eat in a typical day?
  • How much do you eat?
  • Medication
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Are you taking any new medications, or have you changed the dose of your medications?
  • Do you use any illicit drugs? If so, what?
  • Time pattern
  • Does the hunger occur during the sleep period?
  • Does the hunger seem to occur in a pattern related to your menstrual cycle?
  • Other
  • What other symptoms are occurring at the same time?
  • Have you noticed an increase in
  • anxiety ?
  • Do you have
  • frequent urination ?
  • Is there increased
  • heart rate ?
  • Do you have
  • palpitations ?
  • Is there an increase in
  • thirst ?
  • Have you had an unintentional
  • weight gain ?
  • Is there intentional or unintentional
  • vomiting ? The physical examination will probably include a general physical examination and a measurement of the body weight. Psychological evaluation may also be performed in some cases. Diagnostic tests that may be performed are:
  • Blood tests including a chemistry profile
  • Tests for suspected physical causes (such as
  • thyroid function tests ) After seeing your health care provider: You may want to add a diagnosis related to increased appetite to your personal medical record.