Polyphagia means having a strong, hard to satiate hunger. Hunger can be caused by diabetes in one of two ways as it can occur if sugar levels go too high and can also result if diabetes medications causes too low blood glucose levels.

Causes of polyphagia

Possible causes of excessive hunger include:

  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Bulimia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Medication – including corticosteroids and antidepressants

When to see your doctor

Many of us will go through times when we have an increased urge to eat but if this persists over a number of days, it could be indicative of a health condition.

Increased hunger can be a sign of diabetes. If you have some of the symptoms of diabetes, it is advisable to see your doctor.

Hunger and high sugar levels

If you have diabetes and your sugar levels are higher than normal, your body may be struggling to get glucose from your blood into cells which can in turn lead to feelings of hunger.

This can be difficult for people with diabetes because eating more will only exacerbate the problem. If a blood test shows that high sugar levels are accompanied by hunger, it will help to take measures to reduce your blood glucose levels.

If you take insulin and are on a flexible dose therapy, you have the option of injecting some insulin to reduce blood sugar levels, but you must be careful not to risk bringing your sugar levels down too low.

An alternative and effective way to reduce blood sugar is to go for a walk which can help the muscles with taking in glucose from the blood.

Speak with your doctor if you have trouble getting your blood sugar to normal levels or if excessive hunger continues for a prolonged length of time.

Hunger and low sugar levels

A strong sense of hunger can be a sign of low blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes treated with insulin or tablets in sulfonylureas or glinides classes, it may help to test your blood glucose levels if you feel a strong sense of hunger.

If you have low blood glucose levels and need to watch your weight, it’s best to raise your sugar levels as quickly as possible as this will help to end the cravings for food sooner.

Glucose tablets are very quick acting with sweets, such as jelly babies, also being a quick source of carbs.