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Polyphagia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Polyphagia?|Symptoms of Polyphagia|Causes of Polyphagia|Risk Factors of Polyphagia|Diagnosis of Polyphagia|Treatment for Polyphagia|Lifestyle Changes for Polyphagia|Home Remedies for Polyphagia
Polyphagia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Polyphagia?

Polyphagia or hyperphagia is the medical term for increased appetite or excessive hunger. Also, this can be one of the 3 major signs of diabetes.

An increase in hunger is normal as an outcome from an intensive workout or any strenuous activity. But, polyphagia can be an outcome due to health issues like depression or chronic stress too. Also, there are numerous factors that lead to excessive hunger.

Symptoms of Polyphagia

The major sign of hyperphagia is increased and excessive hunger that does not go away even after eating excess food.

In this case, you should visit the doctor’s clinic and get a proper medical checkup.

Read More : 7 Indian Superfoods you must Know about!

Causes of Polyphagia

Below is the list of causes of increased appetite:

Hyperthyroidism

It is a condition where thyroid glands produce thyroid hormones excessively. Due to overproduction of thyroid hormones, your metabolism may not function properly, leading to increased hunger and body weight.

Lack of sleep

Insomnia or lack of sleep may disturb your normal hormonal levels that are responsible for hunger. This makes you very hungry and you eat food that is loaded with calories and fat. Not only lack of sleep increases your hunger, but also causes numerous health issues.

Unhealthy diet

A diet that is rich in unhealthy fat and carbs may not be a good choice. Such a diet might make you feel hungry soon after your meal. It is because of the lack of essential nutrients like fibre and protein, it does not satisfy your hunger.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle are normal and there are times when most women feel to eat more. A rise in progesterone, oestrogen, and decrease in serotonin can lead to excessive hunger and cravings.

Stress

Due to stress, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol excessively. Cortisol hormone can contribute to excessive hunger and cravings for food. Most people with stress or anxiety use food to ease their thoughts.

Diabetes

Hyperphagia is one of the three major signs of diabetes. You suffer from diabetes when you are unable to produce enough insulin in the body, commonly known as type-1 diabetes or your body is not able to use insulin properly, known as type-2 diabetes. When the glucose stays in your blood for a longer duration and flushes out in urine instead of going into cells, it signals your brain that the body needs glucose to function. Thus, this makes you feel hungry and crave for food loaded with sugar and fat.

Read More : 15 Noteworthy Diabetes Facts you Simply shouldn’t Ignore

Hypoglycemia

Mostly seen in diabetic patients, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can lead to excessive hunger.

Risk Factors of Polyphagia

  • Pregnancy
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Reactions to certain medications
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Eating disorders like bulimia
  • Stress

Read More : Folate Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Diagnosis of Polyphagia

As a diagnosis, your doctor will look at the following in detail:

  • Family medical history
  • Other symptoms
  • Your diet
  • How long you have been suffering from polyphagia

Looking at these factors, your doctor will decide the cause of this condition. If the doctor is unable to rule out this condition, he/she might order a blood glucose test or thyroid function test to determine if you have diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Read More : Prediabetes Symptoms, Treatments, and All that you Need to Know

Treatment for Polyphagia

Your doctor will suggest treatments that treat the underlying cause of increased hunger. Several causes like premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can be treated with proper medicines.

Replacing an unhealthy diet with a healthy diet may also help to provide essential nutrients that keep you satiated for a longer duration.

A regular workout can help ease mental issues like depression and stress, resulting in lesser stress eating. Also, people with stress and depression can use anti-anxiety, antidepressant pills to manage the problem or get cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.

Ensure you take your doctor’s advice before using these suggestions.

Lifestyle Changes for Polyphagia

To treat polyphagia, you must also change certain habits that contribute to excessive eating.

You can follow these tips:

Follow a healthy diet

Doctors recommend five to nine fruit and vegetable servings per day to adults. A plate with all nutritious vegetables and fruits can provide healthy calories and prevent overeating. Ask your doctor for a proper diet plan or items that can help your health in numerous ways. Have more fibre and less refined sugar. Eating healthy can help to manage underlying conditions that cause polyphagia.

Stress management

Stress has numerous negative effects on the body and brain. According to a 2012 study, doctors suggest that stress may trigger brain response, leading to change in eating patterns and rising cravings for high-calorie foods. And to avoid so, it is essential that you manage your stress levels and keep a positive mood.

Regular workout

People should work out regularly to manage stress, maintain healthy body weight, prevent diabetes and obesity. It is essential that you work out or perform yoga daily to maintain body weight, improve body flexibility, and stay relaxed.

Read More : Surya Namaskar: Everything you Need to Know

Home Remedies for Polyphagia

Drink water

Water is known to be one of the best appetite suppressants. According to a 2015 study, drinking a large glass of water right before your meal can make you feel less hungry and more satisfied. Not only water but drinking any fluid before your meal makes you eat less and satiates your tummy quickly.

Honey

Honey is a rich source of essential nutrients and antioxidants. It may suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, making you feel satiated for a longer duration. You should use honey instead of sugar in multiple food items or drinks. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, doctors found that honey can control appetite healthily.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is also known to be one of the effective appetite suppressants compared to milk chocolate. According to a study, doctors found that people ate less during their next meal after eating dark chocolate.

Healthy fat and protein

Doctors believe proteins and certain fats are more effective in satisfying the hunger and keeping you full compared to carbohydrates. So, doctors recommend the following foods that are high in proteins:

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Beans and peas
  • Lean meats
  • Soy products
  • Eggs

Ginger

According to a study, doctors believe a small amount of ginger can increase the feeling of fullness and reduce appetite. It might be due to its stimulating effects on the digestive system. However, it was a small-scale study, it requires more research to confirm this effect.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Hyperphagia: Current Concepts and Future Directions Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Hyperphagia/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159941/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Polyphagia/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/medgen/9369/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Polyphagia – Increased Appetite/https://www.diabetes.co.uk/symptoms/polyphagia.html/Accessed on 27/05/2020

What causes obesity?/https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/what-causes-obesity/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Obesity/https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20375749/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408800/#__ffn_sectitle/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Dietary Guidelines for Americans/https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Immediate Pre-Meal Water Ingestion Decreases Voluntary Food Intake in Lean Young Males/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25893719/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428710/#__ffn_sectitle/Accessed on 27/05/2020

A Natural Fiber Complex Reduces Body Weight in the Overweight and Obese: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3627296/#__ffn_sectitle/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of overweight and obesity: the University of Navarra Follow-Up (SUN) cohort study/https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/104/5/1433/4564389/Accessed on 27/05/2020

Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake/https://www.nature.com/articles/nutd201117/Accessed on 27/05/2020

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Written by Nikita Updated 02/09/2021
Expertly reviewed by Dr. Ruby Ezekiel