The nagging feeling of a constant hunger can be frustrating when you are trying to manage a healthy weight. While that feeling of always being hungry and the inability to stop eating does not necessarily point to something chronic, this increase in appetite may point to a number of diseases. If you feel that you may have any of these conditions, it is important that you visit your doctor immediately to begin a treatment regimen.
Diabetes mellitus is a series of diseases that affects the way your body uses blood sugar. Advanced diabetes can result in blindness, loss of limb and even death. Excessive hunger is a symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes that can occur at any stage of life. Other symptoms include increased thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and sores that take longer than normal to heal.
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, can cause an array of problems for a woman up to two weeks before her period begins, according to WomensHealth.org. Common PMS symptoms include bloating and fatigue, but most women do not realize that an increase in appetite is also normal during these weeks. If you have an increase in appetite coupled with binge eating, you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. PMDD symptoms are more severe than PMS symptoms and include frequent crying, prolonged irritability and suicidal thoughts.
The thyroid, found in the throat, helps to regulate your metabolism. When your thyroid makes too many hormones, the result is hyperthyroidism. If you do develop hyperthyroidism, you may find that although your appetite is increasing, your weight is falling unexpectedly. You may be at an increased risk of developing hyperthyroidism if you have a history of tumors on your ovaries or testes, have been diagnosed with Graves disease or are getting too much iodine.
Binge Eating Disorder
Nearly everyone overeats occasionally. However, if you find that you frequently eat beyond the point of being full, are embarrassed about the amount of food you eat and feel guilty when you overeat, you may have binge eating disorder. Typically, people with this disorder are obese. In some cases, a person will purge or fast after a binge eating session. This is a separate eating disorder called bulimia nervosa. Often, people with this disorder have a difficult time handling emotions in a healthy manner, which may cause the need to binge eat, according to the Weight-Control Information Network.
If your sudden increase in appetite has come closely on the heels of starting a new medication, you may want to consult your doctor about possible side effects. Many antidepressants, corticosteroids and some allergy medications can cause a sudden increase in appetite according to Medline Plus.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Hyperthyroidism - Overview; David C. Dugdale, III, MD et. al.; April 2009
- Medline Plus; Appetite Increased; Linda Vorvick, MD et. al.; October 2010
- Weight-Control Information Clearinghouse; Binge Eating Disorder; June 2008
- Brookhaven National Laboratory News; Study Offers New Clues to Brain-Stomach Interaction in Overeating; October 2006