Find out what can be causing ongoing, severe hunger even though your test results are normal.
You’re not pregnant or diabetic, and you certainly don’t have a genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome (which causes perpetual extreme hunger), so why are you so hungry all the time?
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, says that “an elevated thyroid can cause this despite the tests being normal.”
Hyperthyroidism is known for causing excessive hunger, but unfortunately, there can be “false negative” test results.
Dr. Teitelbaum is board certified in internal medicine, and founder of the Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Practitioners Network. His latest book is “The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution” (Avery Penguin 2013).
Other Causes of Constant Severe Hunger
Dr. Teitelbaum says, “Defects in leptin hormone levels, nutritional deficiencies, emotional disorders [including anorexia nervosa] and even some cancers (especially ones that make insulin and drop blood sugars) can cause increased hunger.”
Tumors can develop in the pancreas, causing abnormally low blood sugar, and in turn can cause ongoing hunger. Not all of these tumors are malignant.
If “all the tests” have come back normal, ask your doctor if any of these “normal tests” have ruled out a pancreatic illness. The pancreas makes insulin, and too much insulin will plummet blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Medications may cause hypoglycemia, thereby causing excessive hunger.
Many other Medical Causes of Severe Hunger Despite Normal Test Results
Initial tests to determine the cause of constant severe hunger include fasting glucose (to check for diabetes) and even a pregnancy test.
But in the initial exam, a primary care physician may not consider liver disease, though a savvy physician will eventually wonder if the patient’s liver is working properly.
Malfunction of the liver can drop blood sugar and thus cause hunger in a patient who’s eating. Kidney disorders can disrupt proper excretion of medications, resulting in dipped blood sugar levels.
Adrenal gland disorders can result in excessive hunger in a patient who’s eating. Pituitary gland malfunction can also cause too much hunger in one who’s eating.
But what if you’ve tested normal for all of these issues and still find yourself “always” hungry despite eating more than you usually do? The solution isn’t to overeat and gain 10 pounds of fat (unless you’re undernourished).
You may have a case of reactive hypoglycemia, and your physician may not be able to pin down the cause.
I used to have reactive hypoglycemia, but not all the time. I was fed up with this; I once devoured three large glazed donuts in one sitting, with a glass of milk, after having a normal sized lunch because I was SO hungry.
Document what you eat and when the hunger strikes. You’ll likely discover that certain foods trigger brutal hunger that lingers. The following foods can induce hunger: onions, carrots, white rice, rice cakes, white bread and foods with NutraSweet (aspartame).
Frozen dinners can also cause excessive hunger. I finally realized this; one frozen dinner would leave me very hungry within 20 minutes of finishing it. I’d have to have two more to satisfy my hunger. I ditched these miserable processed fares years ago and no longer suffer with frequent severe hunger.
If you work out like a warrior, this can cause a lot of hunger; drained muscles scream for recovery fuel. I’m hungriest after my leg and back workouts.
Don’t deprive yourself of complex carbs. Protein doesn’t always satisfy hunger; it’s okay to have a boiled potato and a few slices of all-natural whole grain bread!
If “all the tests” are normal and you’re still hungry, take inventory of your eating and exercise habits. The fewer processed foods you eat, the less likely you’ll be troubled by frequent hunger despite eating.