Feeling hungry all the time, especially with gnawing stomach pain, is a distressing symptom. It's really the sort of thing that you need to have your doctor diagnose for you. No non-doctor can give you a diagnosis over the Internet. However, here's a general idea of what to expect.
- Celiac disease (sensitivity to the gliadin protein in gluten from wheat and several other grains) will cause intense, burning (not gnawing) pain in your lower digestive tract. It's not the sort of thing you suddenly wake up one day and discover. It's hereditary, and it's with you all your life. If you can just manage to keep gluten out of your diet, you can do relatively well with it.
- Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can leave you feeling hungry all the time, but your pain will mostly be felt a little farther down your digestive tract.
- Uncontrolled diabetes can make you feel hungry all the time, but you will also feel thirsty all the time. You'll have massive urine production. You'll lose weight despite eating all the time. You aren't like to have pain in your stomach, though. It's very easy to find out whether you have diabetes. You just need a finger stick, and you can get your results in 10 seconds.
- Irritable bowel syndrome can cause swelling, pushing, expanding pain (not burning, gnawing, or aching pain) that is made worse by eating, or by eating and getting exercise (walking back to your office after lunch, for example). It will often cause either alternating constipation and diarrhea or just diarrhea with well-formed stools. In Irritable bowel syndrome you may have to "go" until your bowel is emptied, harder stool first, loose stool last.
- Peptic ulcer disease can cause burning, gnawing, aching pain in your stomach that is relieved by eating. Food dilutes the acid so you don't feel the pain as acutely. If you are hungry all the time, it's not a way you have felt most of your life, and you don't also feel extremely thirsty, the first thing a doctor might check out would peptic ulcer disease.
It's also possible to have a psychiatric condition that causes your to be hungry all the time, but you would tend to gain weight and you would not necessarily have a lot of pain.
Except for diabetes, all of these conditions are relatively hard to diagnose. They share symptoms with many other conditions. It is usually necessary to examine the digestive tract with an endoscopy or a colonoscopy or both. In the United States, these tests can cost thousands of dollars and anything the doctor discovers (with recent changes in the law) may create a pre-existing condition.
What can you do?
- Jot down what you are eating at the time you eat it. Don't try to rely on your memory. Then if you have an especially bad reaction after eating a particular food, you know to try avoiding it.
- Eat peppermint candies or drink peppermint tea. If the problem is irritable bowel syndrome, this usually helps. It's not a cure, but you may feel better.
- See if drinking water also helps you feel better. See if warm or cool water helps more.
- Avoid tomatoes, citrus fruit, chocolate, coffee, beef, shellfish, and dairy for a few days and see if that helps the problem. Sometimes you can develop severe cravings for foods for which you are severely allergic. These are the most common culprits. Then add back one of these food groups every day to see if it is causing your problem.
You can do more for yourself than your doctor can do for you when it comes to finding out your problem foods. See a doctor, but keep your own notes on your progress so you can go beyond what your doctor can do for you.
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