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What Is the Connection between Polyphagia and Diabetes?

By Steven Symes
Updated May 17, 2024
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Polyphagia and diabetes are connected in that polyphagia might be one of several symptoms that a person with diabetes develops. Polyphagia is simply excessive hunger which does not go away, no matter how much or how often a person eats. A person who has polyphagia must be examined by a physician to confirm that it is a symptom of diabetes, and not of another medical condition that can also lead to polyphagia.

Diabetes affects a body’s production and use of glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar. Blood sugar supplies energy to the various cells inside the body. When a person’s blood sugar levels drop below a certain point, the person begins to feel hungry. Even though a diabetic might eat regularly, he might still feel hungry because of his body’s inability to properly use glucose from the food, creating a link between polyphagia and diabetes.

A patient who suffers from polyphagia and diabetes must also stick to a prescribed diet. A dietician helps the patient make food choices that lowers the amount of calories the patient consumes in a day, as well as the person’s fat intake. Consuming smaller meals more frequently also helps the patient avoid polyphagia in the future.

Increasing the amount a person with diabetes eats will not alone cure polyphagia. Because of the tie between polyphagia and diabetes, treatment of a person’s diabetes, under the close supervision of a physician, will decrease that person’s appetite. Normally medication, such as insulin, helps a person regulate the amount of glucose his body produces. In rare cases, a person might need a new pancreas or kidney to manage his condition. Each diabetes case is different, which is why a physician’s training is essential to bring the condition under control.

Even though a connection exists between polyphagia and diabetes, non-medical conditions can cause a person to experience hunger on a regular basis. Women who are pregnant require more nourishment than usual because of the demands of the growing fetus. Different people have different metabolisms, meaning some people must eat more often to maintain their energy levels. Engaging in higher levels of physical activity than usual can also cause a person to experience persistent hunger for a period of time.

Other medical conditions can cause a person to suffer from polyphagia, meaning polyphagia and diabetes are not exclusively related to each other. Both Kleine Syndrome and Prader-Willi Syndrome can cause a person to constantly feel hungry. A person must be examined by a physician to receive proper treatment for whatever medical condition is causing the polyphagia.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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