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Appetite - increased

Definition

Increased appetite means you have an excess desire for food.

Alternative Names

Hyperphagia; Increased appetite; Hunger; Excessive hunger; Polyphagia

Considerations

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.

Common Causes

Causes of increased appetite include:

Home Care

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.

Call your health care provider if

Contact your health care provider if:

  • You have an unexplained, persistent increase in appetite
  • You have other unexplained symptoms

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider will exam you, weigh you, and ask questions about your medical history. exam. You also may have a psychological evaluation.

Questions 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, which ones?
  • 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 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 include:

References

Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 227.

Clemmons DR. Approach to the patient with endocrine disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 228.

Becker AE, Baker CW. Eating disorders. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 8.


Review Date: 10/14/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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