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Hunger Pangs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Hunger Pangs?

Hunger pains also termed as hunger pangs are the after effects of irritated conditions in the stomach linings. After the digestion process completes, the stomach becomes empty and it brings the stomach walls and linings in contact with each other. Interestingly, there are even some cases where an individual with an empty stomach doesn’t feel hunger pangs even though their stomach is empty. This is simply due to the fact that the stomach lines of that individual are not irritated.

What Causes Hunger Pangs in Babies & Newborns?

Determining whether your baby is crying because he/she is hungry, seeking attention or is simply irritated due to some underlying health condition is quite easy. By paying attention to the way a baby is crying can help in determining the underlying causes.

While feeding, sometimes it’s observed that the baby is latching on, sucking quickly and can’t stay that way for a longer period. This is clear indication of pain and is not crying due to hunger pang.

The causes of hunger pangs in babies are discussed below:

  • Sudden drop in the blood sugar levels of the baby
  • Lack of nutrients in the body due to excessive feeding of formula and less feeding of mother’s milk
  • Over activity leading to depletion of nutrient levels in the body resulting in hunger pangs

Hunger Pangs

What Causes Hunger Pangs in adults?

Sensations or contractions that occur in the stomach in a successive manner are also known as hunger pangs. The sensation can come and go quickly in a matter of minutes or could even last for hours. The intensity gradually increases over time.

  • Digestive disorders: Hunger pangs tend to be extremely painful when individuals suffer from peptic ulcers or similar disorders in the gastric system. It is also noted that feeling hungry still lingers around for quite a while even after an individual has finished his/her meal.
  • Food Cravings: Appetite or cravings for a particular type of food also play a crucial role in the increasing or decreasing the cases of hunger pangs. Intake of food items in large quantities often leads to cases of increased appetite among individuals that further leads to unwanted weight and mass gain. Keeping a check on the overall gain of appetite over time is crucial. If this condition worsens and a person’s appetite is significantly increased over time, then it is best to go for a thorough check-up.
  • Health & Mental conditions: It plays a crucial role in the overall gain or loss or appetite. Serious medical conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism and mental conditions like stress and depression also lead to increased cravings.

On top of that here are some other conditions that can result in increasing the cases of hunger pangs:

  • Anxiety
  • PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Bulimia
  • Hypoglycemia

Rare Causes & Considerations

Certain serious conditions can also lead to unexplained sensations of hunger pangs and some of the rare cases and causes are:

  • Low Blood Sugar: The blood sugar level directly determines how active and energetic one feels at any point in time. The crucial factor is to maintain the appropriate levels of blood sugar as that will ultimately lead to a healthy mass to weight ratio and lessen the cases of hunger pangs.
  • Irritated stomach linings: Inability to differentiate between real hunger and an irritated stomach in most cases is the reason why people opt for snacking in between meals. Certain abuses on the stomach such as improper chewing, drinking of liquids during or after meals, overeating, etc. can often lead to false hunger scenarios. This results in the painful sensation that one feels which can only be relieved by the consumption of food.

True hunger is completely opposite to hunger pangs. They are not at all painful but are a pleasant sensation that is a reflex response generated by the digestive system when the body is in need of nutrients.

Symptoms of Hunger Pangs

Some of the common symptoms among infants and adults have been discussed below:

In infants

  • Suddenly waking up & excessive restlessness
  • Smacking of the lips & sucking on the fist
  • Rooting

In adults

  • Growling noises from the stomach
  • Feeling empty
  • Persistent distressing feeling in the stomach
  • Sudden setting in of weakness & unexplained fatigue
  • Disorientation & nausea
  • Craving for food

Tests for Hunger Pangs

Figuring out the difference between emotional and physical hunger is not so easy. An individual often feels hungry or rather craves for food items that are high in sugar, fat or simply calorie content.

  • Checking the natural reflex of the stomach reminding the individual that it’s time for a meal
  • Signal by the body to the mind that the activity that the individual is engaged to be not at all interesting anymore
  • Testing that the craving is real or not. It is quite easy and can be done by placing the hand on the belly to check if the stomach is really growling

Remedies for Hunger Pangs

Given below are some home remedies that can put an end to hunger pangs:

  • Eating soups containing vegetable, chicken or fish broth
  • Fruit smoothies, low-fat yogurt, whole wheat pasta, fresh fruits & lots of greens
  • Consumption of protein rich food items per meal is suggested
  • Loading up on carbohydrates is not at all good as it deprives the body of other necessary nutrients eventually leads to hunger pangs
  • Regular exercise that lasts up to 30 minutes or more
  • Consumption of about 8 to 10 glasses of water is advised
  • Avoid snacking in between meals
  • Changing the venue or the activity that one is doing might help put an end to hunger pangs

When to visit a doctor?

It’s easy to ignore certain symptoms as mere glitches in your body, but it is highly recommended not to put the same at the bottom of your priority list. If symptoms persist for a considerable period of time, it is advised to visit a doctor.

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