Appetite - increased
Increased appetite means you have an excess desire for food.
Hyperphagia; Increased appetite; Hunger; Excessive hunger; Polyphagia
An increased appetite can be a symptom of different diseases. For example, it may be due to certain mental conditions and endocrine gland disorders.
An increased appetite can come and go (intermittent), or it can last for long periods of time (persistent), depending on the cause. It does not always result in weight gain.
The terms "hyperphagia" and "polyphagia" refer to someone who is focused only on eating, or who eats excessively before feeling full.
Causes of increased appetite include:
- Certain drugs (such as corticosteroids, cyproheptadine, and tricyclic antidepressants)
- Bulimia (most common in women 18 - 30 years old)
- Diabetes mellitus (including gestational diabetes)
- Graves' disease
- Premenstrual syndrome
Emotional support, and in some cases counseling, are recommended.
If a medication is causing increased appetite and weight gain, your health care provider may decrease your dosage or recommend a different drug. Never stop taking your medication without first talking to your health care provider.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if:
- You have an unexplained, persistent increase in appetite
- You have other unexplained symptoms
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. During the physical examination, the health care provider will probably weigh you. You also may have a psychological evaluation
The doctor will ask you questions about your medical history, with emphasis on your eating habits. Questions may include:
- 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?
- 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, which ones?
- Does the hunger occur during the sleep period?
- Does the hunger seem to occur in a pattern related to your menstrual cycle?
- What other symptoms are you having at the same time?
- Have you noticed an increase in anxiety?
- Do you frequently urinate?
- Do you have an increased heart rate?
- Do you have palpitations?
- Do you feel more thirsty?
- Have you had an unintentional weight gain?
- Do you experience intentional or unintentional vomiting?
Tests that may be done includee:
- Blood tests, including a chemistry profile
- Thyroid function tests
Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 239.
Saper CB. Autonomic disorders and their management. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 445.
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.