Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Chronic Severe Hunger

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 19 Replies
  • Posted By: 2liveagain
  • April 10, 2009
  • 04:01 PM

What could be causing chronic severe hunger pangs that are not relieved by eating any amount or type of food? I have no satiety either. I have been tested for diabetes at least 5 times. I have had blood work done, extensive, everything came back normal. I've seen several specialists including an endocrinologist. I've had this problem for years and it has greatly affected my sleep. I wake up starving, even though I have eaten a full meal right before bedtime, and I have a lot of trouble falling and going back to sleep due to this hunger. My weight has fluctuated quite a bit and I often have to go on diets of nothing but vegetables to get back to a weight I'm happy with, but this means very little sleep. The hunger started long before I began experiencing severe anxiety, but the anxiety made the hunger sensations at least 3 times as bad. If these hunger pangs are a physical problem, how could anxiety make them worse? Doctors are baffled. Other symptoms include severe debilitating fatigue and severe headaches. Severe IC (bladder). Insomnia. Anxiety. I also have more energy when I don't eat. When I eat, I become very tired and fatigued, I do not have hypoglycemia or blood sugar problems either. The hunger will prevent me from sleeping no matter how tired I am. I have not seen a gastroenterologist or neurologist yet. Wondering if there are nerves that could be irritated and give the sensation of hunger, and also wondering if something could be wrong with my metabolism.

Reply Flag this Discussion

19 Replies:

  • Get your doctor to test you for insulin resistance or intolerance, this mimics diabetic symptoms but you will test negative for diabetes. It's difficult to diagnose so get your doctor to research it - or you could do that yourself.Also and sorry to bring it up but maybe the problem could be psychological have you thought about that?
    maggiemay 68 Replies Flag this Response
  • Satiety is a function of the brain receiving feedback from stretch receptors in the stomach wall, indicating that it is full at some given point. From a basic standpoint, realize that if your diet largely consists of starches and complex sugars, the body metabolizes these foods almost immediately. Every diet must include some portion of protiens that establish longer digestion cycles and equilibrium of serum glucose. This is the reason that you are feeling so tired after eating a meal. The body reacts to the serum glucose by increasing insulin production, producing spikes rather than a more steady increase and decline. This process is also affected by stress or anxiety. It's also important to realize that many people who diet also consume a great deal of diet drinks, many of which contain either high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or both. Fructose, unlike glucose, must be metabolized strictly by the liver and has been shown to interfere with insulin receptors, thereby causing features that physiologically may suggest type II insulin resistance and yet appear normal on diagnostic tests. Aspartame actually increases hunger, so while serving as a sugar substitute, it has a rather paradoxical effect upon the diet-conscious consumer. So it's important that you examine whether a great deal of products containing these compounds are present in your diet, although it would take an excessive amount to produce dramatic symptoms such as those described. When you speak of hunger pangs, it's also important to distinguish between the more common features associated with hunger from those that produce mild nausea, diaphoresis or sweating, tremulousness and weakness. These two distinctions are very often interchangable in the minds of some patients but constitute different physiological manifestations. Very often, people with anxiety or stress cause spikes in epinephrine, which acts upon the gut to produce characteristic nausea and sweating, as well as the tremulousness. Typically upregulation in epineprhine occurs in response to exertion or exercise in order to increase factors necessary to sustain performance. In the absence of phases of exertion, up-regulation in epinephrine readily produces symptoms often mistaken for hypoglycemia, which in actuality is very rare. Sustained adrenal stimulation can also result in a washed out feeling, with muscular weakness or clonic activity experienced when tensing muscle groups, described by many as trembling or shaking when straining muscles. Additionally, eating right before going to sleep can have a negative impact on quality of sleep. Again, it's important to discern whether the hunger pangs you are experiencing are actually due to chronic adrenal stimulation rather than true hunger. While certain conditions do occur wherein absence of satiety and hunger drives are disturbed, they are mostly related to neurological function and are accompanied by other symptoms which are salient as well. Best regards, J Cottle, MD
    JCottleMD 580 Replies Flag this Response
  • When did this problem began? If it has been going on your entire life then maybe you need to see a geneticist. If not, has it been a gradually developing problem or can you look back to a starting point? Are you truly starving 24/7 or do you have periods of some relief? The answer could help a doctor figure out this mystery. Like you I cannot sleep if hungry. I will not fall to sleep and have been known to wake up starving. My symptoms are not as bad as yours, but over the years I have learned to watch my carb intake. Carbs can actually make me hungry. If I eat a lot of carbs at night I am almost guaranteed to wake up in the middle of the night needing food. You say it doesn’t matter how much or what you eat, but have you really restricted your diet to see what happens. If you eat, say beef and broccoli for dinner and nothing else, are you still hungry? You cannot test a diet change for just one meal. It is possible you might be allergic/sensitive to something that is in your diet a lot and actually makes you hungry, along with causing other symptoms. You might want to keep a food diary and try eliminating those foods you eat a lot of. If this is the cause, you can actually have withdraw symptoms when you do not eat the food. Try avoiding foods like milk products, wheat, soy, eggs, or anything you eat often for at least 3 weeks and see what happens. It takes at 3 weeks to get out of your system. If you have not been to a GI doc, you should. My dad was in his 40’s before he was finally diagnosed with celiac disease and his father was a doctor.
    halal37 96 Replies Flag this Response
  • I find personally that if I eat right before bed I always wake up ravenous. Maybe you should make sure you don't eat anything at least two hours before going to bed & see if that helps.
    aquila 1263 Replies Flag this Response
  • Have you looked into some type of parasites?I would advise researching some on the internet.Is there any possibilities of contracting a parasite from an animal? Are you sure it is hunger you are feeling and not just a type of pain?That would explain why it isn't relived by eating.Hope I am of some help.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I get tired from eating pretty much anything. For example today I ate soup and became very fatigued. Carrots, fish, will make me tired and carbs are the worst. It’s definitely not pain and it is not nausea, it feels like I am starving. So basically you are saying that anxiety can cause the sensation of hunger, but that this is rare? I can’t remember exactly when it started, but I have a good idea. I had been suffering from treatment resistant depression (of so they thought) for a year ½ and had recently been treated with ECT. I was taking nortriptyline at the time and everybody thought that was causing the hunger. I have since been off of the tri-cyclics and the hunger has gotten worse. For 4 months I wasn’t taking any medication and the hunger persisted. The hunger came before the anxiety but I was experiencing sleep problems around the time the hunger appeared. When I started experiencing anxiety, partly due to this stupid hunger, it became worse, to the point of 24/7 ravenous feeling. This hasn’t been a problem all my life just for the past 4 years. Two years before the chronic hunger I recovered from anorexia nervosa from which I suffered for a year. Again, the hunger didn’t start till 2 years after my recovery. I’ve had chronic pain and fatigue problems since high school, before any psychological problems started. I mention this because I can’t help but wonder if it is all connected. Fatigue has always accompanied the hunger pangs and the hunger pangs, in my experience, have had a direct connection with sleep and energy. The hungrier I am, the more energy, the more alert. I cannot sleep when I am very ravenous but it takes a very large amount of food to calm this ravenous feeling to a normal hunger feeling, at which time I can fall asleep w/ the aid of medication. If I sleep, even if only for 30 minutes, after I’ve eaten a full meal to fall asleep in the first place, I wake up ravenous, as if I hadn’t eaten in days……but 30 mins prior I have eaten a large amount of food. I have seen a psychologist for 6-7 months and have done CBT and he does not think the hunger is psychological. The endocrinologist ran basic tests, blood sugar, thyroid, everything came back normal so she just gave up. Could there be an endocrine disorder? The hypothalamus and pituitary control hunger, sleep, and energy right?
    2liveagain 8 Replies Flag this Response
  • Aha... anorexia + anxiety. I've heard both of these things before, in combination can cause symptoms such as these. I had a girlfriend who was bulemic for a while, then after therapy, stopped being bulemic, she was healed, yay! But then she just kept on binging, without the throwing-up part, so she gained about 200 pounds. She also had anxiety issues. her hunger never goes away, and never satisfied after a meal. She said it always felt like she hadn't eaten anything. Carbs, foods high in starch, and anything with HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) also made her feel tired. I dont know if that helps any, but may help to better understand it a little... my current girlfriend is bulemic, and due to the stretching of her stomach when she binges, she has a huge stomach and a normal meal doesn't satisfy, and she gets intense cravings to the point of obsession. I'd say based on all of that, it may be related somehow to the anorexia and the anxiety (psychological things can make you experience physical symptoms.. take panic attacks for instance. You're anxious and panic, but you feel like you are having a heart attack, there's a lump in your throat, you can't breathe, etc). I would actually go to a different psychologist for an evaluation. You might be surprised, because it sounds like it could be psychological. I'm only saying this from experience, so I raelly can't tell for sure but its worth another shot, at any rate... Good luck and feel better!!!
    Plastikfear 64 Replies Flag this Response
  • Let me first say that I really appreciate all of the responses. I was hoping that the cause of the hunger was physiological, because if it is psychological there is nothing that can be done that hasn't been tried. How do you test for insulin resistance? I find this interesting because one of the main symptoms is fatigue after eating. My endoc. said that I don't fit this because I'm not overweight or obese. Usually people with parasites are anemic, but I am not. Chronic hunger is a main symptom of bulimia, but I am not bulimic. I still question it being psychological because my psychiatrist and psychologist who both have 30 years of experience individually have never heard of this and they have treated thousands of people. I was also referred to the Shands psychiatric center and nobody there had heard of this as well, and they treat hundreds of people from around the country daily. Thanks though. If you all hear of anybody with this problem please let me know, I was hoping to talk to somebody with personal experience.
    2liveagain 8 Replies Flag this Response
  • (Sorry if this has been said already...I only read through the first few posts)Have your doctors considered a tapeworm?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • You can have parasites and not be anemic. I know from personal experience. I once got tested and the test showed 2 parasites. I was treated and improved greatly. Then that doctor moved away and I was forced to see another doctor. When I showed him my lab reports he said, "everyone has that parasite" and dismissed that treatment for parasites really helped me a lot. So don't assume since you are not anemic, parasites are not a possibility.
    halal37 96 Replies Flag this Response
  • Are you eating artificial sweeteners?you know, sucralose, splenda?Aspartame?aspartic acid?phenylalanine?
    founddog 188 Replies Flag this Response
  • Complications of Crohn’s Disease

    Recognize the risks associated with Crohn’s disease.

    8 Surprising Facts About Cholesterol

    Did you know that one in six US adults has high cholesterol?

  • omgshI know what it is you are gluten intolerant!no more gluten : > therebtw the kosher jewish stores sell tons of non-gluten foods around passover- and you can store some for laterI say this because it is going to be hard to find gluten free foodsbut eat homemade stuff and plenty of fruits and veggies. I hope this works for you.
    founddog 188 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thanks for all the tips, really appreciate it. Several people have mentioned parasites, HOW do I get tested for parasites?...Who would I consult to do that? Also who do I see to test for food allergies?
    2liveagain 8 Replies
    • August 28, 2009
    • 07:07 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Have you figured out what was causing your hunger? I've had a very similar problem, have seen many doctors and can't figure out what is causing it. I also went through a period that I was anorexic. I would go forever without eating and became very thin and ever since I've been ravenously hungry all the time and I question the connection.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 16, 2010
    • 00:02 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I found a doctor (OBGYN) who is into bio-identical hormones. He ran a bunch of siliva tests and discovered I had adrenal fatigue. He gave me supplemts for it that slowly helped my adrenals start working better. I am feeling much better. He also discovered I was dangerously low in Vit. D3, which cured other problems I started having. First doctor I saw that actually listened to what I was saying.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 17, 2010
    • 00:19 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I found a doctor (OBGYN) who is into bio-identical hormones. He ran a bunch of siliva tests and discovered I had adrenal fatigue. He gave me supplemts for it that slowly helped my adrenals start working better. I am feeling much better. He also discovered I was dangerously low in Vit. D3, which cured other problems I started having. First doctor I saw that actually listened to what I was saying. Thank-you for this insightful post. It interests me because I have suffered from disabling fatigue, sleepiness, and severe headaches for several years. Did you also have chronic hunger and did the treatment you mentioned help? I have heard of adrenal fatigue but haven't looked into it much because health care professionals don't recognize it.
    2liveagain 8 Replies
    • September 28, 2010
    • 07:23 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Have you figured out what was causing your hunger? I've had a very similar problem, have seen many doctors and can't figure out what is causing it. I also went through a period that I was anorexic. I would go forever without eating and became very thin and ever since I've been ravenously hungry all the time and I question the connection. I have not found out what is causing the chronic hunger or any treatment or relief. The hunger didn't start till 2 or 3 years after recovery. When did the hunger start for you in relation to your recovery? I also wonder if there is a connection but have yet to find any answers. I did see an eating disorder specialist even after I had recovered to try and get help with the hunger but this specialist had never heard of it.
    2liveagain 8 Replies
    • September 28, 2010
    • 07:27 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi I see you posted this a number of years ago, if you get this email can you tell me if you ever got a diagnosis. I have these same exact symptoms now which started about a week ago. Thank you
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • November 10, 2014
    • 05:35 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi. I realize you posted this several years ago, but did you ever find a solution to your health issues? I have the same problem; I'm always starving and never feel satiated. And I mean STARVING, it's completely debilitating. It's as if my body doesn't even notice when I eat. Never heard of anyone experiencing the same thing, would love to hear if you found some help! Best of luck xxx
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
Thanks! A moderator will review your post and it will be live within the next 24 hours.