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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 a mental condition or a problem with the endocrine gland.

An increased appetite can come and go (intermittent), or it can last for long periods of time (persistent). This will depend 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 a large amount before feeling full.

Causes

Causes may include:

Home Care

Emotional support is recommended. Counseling may be needed in some cases.

If a medicine is causing increased appetite and weight gain, your health care provider may decrease your dose or have you try another drug. Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your 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 do a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history. You also may have a psychological evaluation.

Questions may include:

  • What are your typical eating habits?
  • Have you begun dieting or do you have concerns about your weight?
  • What medicines are you taking and have you recently changed the dose or started new ones? Do you use any illicit drugs?
  • Do you get hungry during sleep? Is your hunger related to your menstrual cycle?
  • Have you noticed any other symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, increased thirst, vomiting, frequent urination, or unintentional weight gain?
Tests that may be done include:

References

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: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 8.

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

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


Review Date: 11/2/2014
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, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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