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Hunger pains, digestive issues, and physical problems
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Hunger pains, digestive issues, and physical problems

I am a 24 year old female. For the past month or so I feel starving all the time. It's the feeling of a gurgling stomach and intense, sickening gnawing hunger pain underneath the gurgling. It makes me immediately start sweating, I get hot and feel that I'll be sick (faint, throw up, etc.) if I don't eat immediately. I run into the kitchen and drink milk and eat oatmeal, peanut butter toast, etc. Sometimes eating makes the pain go away for for maybe an hour, but then the pain starts again, and sometimes eating doesn't make the pain go away at all. I can't sleep through the night. I wake up about every 1 to 2 hours with the pain, pounding heart, dizziness and sweating. I eat a granola bar and fall back asleep for a bit until I wake up with the same thing again. Mornings are horrible. When I wake up I feel dizzy, faint, hungry, and the gnawing hunger pain in my stomach. I've gained 10 pounds because I eat all the time, and I'm don't exercise anymore because of the pain and fear that I'll faint.

Other issues I'm having are: excessive gas, bloating, burping up bile, diarrhea in the mornings and increased bowel movements. I also suffer from anxiety. When I start getting the hunger feeling I worry that my blood sugar is low and that sends me into an anxiety attack. The pain also sends me into an anxiety attack because it hurts so bad and I don't know what's going on. The lack of sleep, no exercise, weight gain, constant eating, and inability to go out are ruining my life and making my anxiety worse. I've been taking 40mg of Pepcid AC  every day for a month and I don't think it's helping.

For the past month I drank a Slim Fast every morning, and a month's worth of Slim Fast was just recalled because they might be contaminated with Bacillus Cereus. I thought maybe that was the problem, but I haven't had a Slim Fast in about a week and my problems remain. I don't know if the two things are related or just circumstantial.
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242516_tn?1368227505
Honestly, the most healthy way to eat is in very small amounts as frequently as every 2 hours.  But waking up to eat is pretty unhealthy in terms of interfering with rest from sleep.  1234554321's suggestion of an ulcer is possible since many folks with ulcers eat frequently to ease the pain of irritating the ulcer, but you haven't mentioned mid-epigastric pain that is relieved by eating.  Hunger that is so frequent can be from anxiety, OCD, and very rarely, insulinoma.  A fixation on eating can result in a feeling of needing to eat often.  A insulinoma is a tumor that makes insulin, pushing sugar into cells which encourages more consumption in order to increase blood sugar.  Low blood sugar symptoms can result if not enough sugar is in the bloodstream, causing "fight-or-flight" like symptoms of hunger, sweating, and heart racing.
10 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
From my experience it sounds like you have an ulcer of some type.  Ulcers feel/act different if are in the stomach, small bowel, etc.  Have you been to the doctor?
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your reply. I haven't been to the doctor yet, because at first I thought it was a virus that would pass on by, and then I thought that my anxiety was making it worse.

I did sleep propped up last night for the first time and I had noticeably less pain. Still a slight feeling of hunger (the gurgling, empty feel) but not the intense pain I usually have at night. I don't know if that's significant...
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Avatar_f_tn
Also, can acid reflux cause digestive issues, such as gas, diarrhea, etc? And, can it cause the heart racing and panic feelings, especially upon waking? I think maybe that happens because I'm in pain and wake up suddenly so my body is in flight or fight mode.
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Avatar_f_tn
Update:  For the past several nights I've slept sitting up. The pain is better. I still feel nauseous upon waking, but nothing like before. I still get a bit of anxiety, but I think that's just my usual anxiety worrying about what my stomach will feel like in the morning,etc.

Since sleeping sitting up, I only wake up once a night, or not at all. One night I went 8 straight hours!! First time in a month or so. If I do wake up once, it's usually after 3-4 hours or so, so I'm going longer. During the day the pain is much better. I haven't been getting the intense, gnawing hunger pains. It's more of a general discomfort and sometimes a burning right under my sternum area. Yesterday I went several hours without eating. The pain and burping up bile gets worse as the evening approaches though.

Anyway, I'm thinking that it's acid reflux. Hopefully that's all!

Any more input is greatly appreciated!
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242516_tn?1368227505
It's reassuring if periods of hunger are becoming more infrequent.  If hunger is persistent, and requires frequent eating to relieve, it could be considered to be a positive Whipple's triad if the blood sugar is low during an episode.  It's important to be examined by a doctor during an episode to get the blood sugar recorded.  If it is truly low, other than an insulinoma, adrenal insufficiency, tumors, and factious hypoglycemia (taking diabetes medicines without the problem of diabetes so the sugar goes too low) are possible concerns.  The symptoms of low blood sugar from tumors are usually less dramatic since the sugar lowers gradually and oftentimes doesn't have the "fight-or-flight" symptoms, heart racing, sweating etc.
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242516_tn?1368227505
if menstrual periods cease, another concern would be adrenal & ovarian failure.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for all your help! Yesterday was much better. I went 4 hours before eating again after lunch (and I only ate because it had been 4 hours, not because I was in pain) and 5 hours after eating dinner. The pain is still worse at night though, and in the morning.

Can acid reflux, or GERD, make my stomach sensitive to the touch? It's especially tender in the middle, right under my ribs, and also a bit tender going all the way down the middle of my stomach. It also is tender and producing slight discomfort in my upper abdomen when bending over or sitting hunched. This is noticeably worse in the morning and evening.

Also, can acid reflux just appear out of nowhere? Or maybe I always had subtle signs that never registered...

Thank you!
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Avatar_n_tn
Doctor Choi, you really impress me with your out of the box thinking.  Its seems like the gastro doctors I have seen are very quick to label things as IBS or GERD.  I am suffering from the same types of pain kcb7 has.  Chronic hunger which is amplified with 3:00 am wake-up calls.  My stomach wakes me up with a gnawing feeling, like I have not eaten in a week.  I then start to get a hot feeling, and get very fidgety which makes me toss and turn in bed.  If I get up and have something to drink or eat the feeling seems to subside and I can get back to bed, but a few hours later it seems to come back.  I've tried everything from Aciphex, Prevacid, Prilosec and nothing seems consistent.  I've had blood work done for h. pylori and it came back negative.  I've also tried Librax which helps me sleep a bit better, but that can also make me fidgety since I am taking Bystolic for high blood pressure.  Prior to being put on Bystolic, the hunger pains would also really make my pulse race like crazy in the middle of the night.  I find your comment about hypoglycemia interesting because the hot flash I get with the hunger pain is a similar feeling to low blood sugar which I have experienced before.  Its a nauseating feeling which makes you feel light in legs.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Avatar_f_tn
I went to the doctor today and was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer. I'm on Amoxicillin, Clarithromycin and Prevacid for two weeks. I just started the medication tonight, so we'll see how it goes. So far I have a horrible taste in my mouth from the Clarithromycin and my stomach feels "iffy," but it's felt that way non stop for two months, so I can handle it for a couple more weeks.

Here's to better days!
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Avatar_f_tn
I was in an auto accident in september of 09 ,  immediately I had a nausea feeling in my stomach but no real pain.  I also had a terrible headache , severe hematoma in the right flank area , and severe knee pain .  c t scans done were originally thought to show a spleen injury , ruled out later with additional scans .  upon release from the hospital , I continue to have the nausea and vomiting.  my doctor gave me reglan and other medicines , nothing really helped . terrible hunger pains  kept me awake at night.  I gained 20 pounds .  I begin having hot flashes and night sweats.   I kept returning to the doctor but with no results.  basically he just thought it was my age , 49, and contributed the symptoms to menopause .    eventually my doctor sent me 4 blood test .  his diagnosis diabetes mellitus type 2 . he put me on metformin and said all symptoms should subside .  they have not .  I still have the hunger pains  keep me awake at night  regardless of my diet during the day .  my blood sugar runs around 106  give or take a few .  I have brought this up repeatedly , but I think the doctor  thinks then I am just trying to contribute this to an accident .  I just want to feel healthy again .  will you suggest the type of doctor I should see ?
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