What Causes Hunger & Diarrhea?

Numerous conditions can cause excessive hunger and diarrhea. According to the Medline Plus website, the cause of excessive hunger can be starvation, or it can be a symptom of certain medical conditions and endocrine gland disorders. When excessive hunger occurs in conjunction with other health problems, such as diarrhea – loose or liquid bowel movements – seek medical attention and intervention as soon as possible. These symptoms may signal a serious underlying health problem.

Numerous conditions can cause excessive hunger and diarrhea. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Graves' Disease

Graves' disease, also known as toxic diffuse goiter, can cause hunger and diarrhea. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism among Americans. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. The NIDDK states that Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder, which means if you have this condition, your immune system attacks its own cells and tissues, making antibodies that attach to your thyroid cells. Common signs and symptom associated with Graves' disease include hunger, diarrhea and frequent bowel movements, anxiety, irritability, sleeping problems, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, heat sensitivity and excessive sweating. According to the NIDDK, you have a greater likelihood of developing Graves' disease if you are a female under 40 years of age.


Anxiety can cause hunger and diarrhea in some individuals. The National Institute on Mental Health, or NIMH, reports anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Anxiety helps you cope with tension in the workplace, to study harder for a test, or focus on an important speech. In some cases, however, anxiety may develop into an excessive and irrational fear of normal day-to-day situations, at which point it becomes a disorder. There are five main types of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia. Common signs and symptoms associated with anxiety include increased appetite, or hunger, and abnormal bowel functioning, including diarrhea, in some individuals. According to the NIMH, effective treatments are available for all anxiety disorders, and research continues to yield new and more effective therapies to help you live a productive and fulfilling life.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a common eating disorder that can cause hunger and diarrhea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, bulimia nervosa involves cycles of binge eating and purging, or voiding, the food you consumed. If you have bulimia nervosa, you may eat a lot of food at once and then try to get rid of it by vomiting, using laxatives or engaging in excessive exercise. Bulimia is associated with depression and other psychiatric disorders, states the UMMC. Most people with bulimia may keep the condition a secret for many years. Common signs and symptoms include loss of control over eating, hunger, constipation, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, binge-eating foods high in carbohydrates, fluctuating body weight, sore throat, bad breath and damaged teeth enamel. According to the UMMC, there is no known cause of bulimia nervosa, although genetics, psychological factors and emotional trauma may play a role.

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