Why do I get the dry heaves when I get hungry?
August 12, 2006 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Why do I get the dry heaves when I get hungry? I used to never had a problem getting hungry...if I couldn't eat for a little while. In the last couple of years I have an almost instantaneous reaction when I get hungry. All of a sudden I go into the dry heaves. I have to desperately search for something to eat or eat a Tums. It's rather annoying, not to mention uncomfortable. Other than that I don't have any symptoms. Does anyone have experience with this. Ideas?

I'm a 44-year-old slender female without any major health problems. I have a fairly healthy diet with no restrictions.
posted by livinginmonrovia to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I sometimes feel nauseated when I am hungry, and it does come on sort of suddenly. It doesn't happen consistently, and it always goes away almost immediately once I eat something. I don't know why it happens though.
posted by nekton at 8:44 PM on August 12, 2006

This has happened to me too in the past couple of years, though not all the time. I have noticed it especially on days when I am a little dehydrated or when I've had a lot of caffeine (i.e. days when I have had a smaller than normal breakfast and a big coffee...I get really queasy & sick to my stomach by lunchtime). I also feel like there's some relationship to feeling this way after not eating enough protein in my previous meals.

Usually this happens when I'm very engrossed in something & lose track of time...I kind of block my hunger signals and completely forget about lunchtime or dinnertime.

I have mentioned this to friends, and several of my girlfriends also experience severe queasiness occasionally as a sign of being hungry.

My suggestion is to mention it to your doctor, and ask for a full blood workup at your next physical (just in case), but also to make sure you have a healthy snack on hand for emergencies (a small bag of nuts, a granola bar, etc) and try to stick to your routine mealtimes when possible. And stay hydrated!

Feel better!
posted by tastybrains at 9:23 PM on August 12, 2006

I also get desperately-hungry/queasy/shakey, all of a sudden, sometimes. (Never dry heaves though.) I have always attributed this to having a "fast metabolism", which means I don't gain weight but I need to eat very small meals every 2 or 3 hours. My solution is just to be vigilant about eating very regularly; I always have a bag of trail mix or a wrapped cheese stick or a bag of crackers etc with me. In my experience it is related to having enough protein, but starch will fix the problem too.

If this is just starting for you, I agree with tastybrains: talk to the doctor.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:49 PM on August 12, 2006

Sounds like you get hypoglycemic easily (which doesn't mean you're diabetic). Like others have said, carry food of some sort with you. Don't be shy if you're challenged about having food somewhere it's usually not allowed - this is a legitimate medical need, even if it isn't diagnosed.

For a more stable solution, though, try watching what you eat and when. If you're noticing that it happens less when you eat closer together, go ahead and do that. If you notice that it happens when your meal contains fewer carbohydrates or less protein or whatever, try changing that.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:48 PM on August 12, 2006

Blood sugar "crashing" is indicative of a couple of metabolic disorders that are worth watching/knowing about. Not just the fact of crashing (sudden transition to very low blood sugar), but also your sensitivity to it (many of us crash, not all of us heave or faint. I, for instance, become aggressive and irritable. It's terrific to watch.)

Translation: tell your doctor about this. He/she should be able to help you determine if there's a more serious underlying problem.
posted by Dunwitty at 1:49 AM on August 13, 2006

I had similar symptoms and my doctor just told me that I wasn't hypoglycemic, but that I ran "close" or whatever on my blood sugar. Nothing to do, apparently, other than keeping a granola bar or something on me at all times. I find that All Bran Bars are really excellent - they have a lot of fiber, and they are sweet, but they are altogether not that unhealthy for you. If I feel like I'm getting too hungry, I just eat about half the bar, and then I'm usually okay enough to make it through to real food. All that said, it happens to me way less now that I have a snack at 10am and a snack at 3pm. I have a stick of string cheese at 10am and a 4 oz container of light yogurt at 3pm, and that's gone a long way to keeping me from being howlingly hungry.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:31 AM on August 13, 2006

Response by poster: I asked my doctor about this and he said I might have Acid Reflux, but this didn't sound right to me. He wanted to write me a perscription.
posted by livinginmonrovia at 3:55 PM on August 13, 2006

Excuse me, but if you're barfing that frequently you need to see a doctor. Pronto. It's not normal. I don't think it has anything to do with your being hungry, although it may be related.

I think you need a second opinion. Your first doctor may be correct, and you can try pepcid or zantac (over the counter) but you need to see someone else who can explain it to you.

Make an appointment first thing tomorrow, or go to the nearest Urgent Care center. Please.
posted by shifafa at 5:24 PM on August 13, 2006

I don't think the acid reflux diagnosis is completely strange, just because you say taking an antacid resolves it, which would be odd if the primary issue was hunger. I'd imagine the train of events would be, an empty stomach triggers reflux, stomach acids irritate your throat, causing spasming that leads to gagging.

I think the people saying get a full blood work-up now or go see another doctor immediately are overreacting, though of course that is your judgement call. Why not let your doctor prescribe the drug and see if it resolves the issue? Anti reflux drugs are relatively innoccuous and you don't have to keep taking it.
posted by nanojath at 9:19 PM on August 13, 2006

Response by poster: I don't actually throw up...my body just goes into the heaving mode, and it doesn't happen every day...probably only once every three weeks or so when I've forgotten to eat.
posted by livinginmonrovia at 9:34 PM on August 13, 2006

I suspect it may be related to your esophagus/stomach connection -- the growingly tummy, as I understand it (perhaps mistakenly), is by the esophagus, or the muscle/membrane connecting it to the stomach, attempting to pull down food into the stomach with nothing to pull at. Perhaps there is some sort of issue with that intersection that causes a dry-heave reaction instead of the typical growl?
posted by vanoakenfold at 7:51 AM on August 14, 2006

« Older How many miles are too many on a used vehicle?   |   Fonts with "the" as single character Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.