If you are consuming way too much water than you should and getting thirsty quite often without any particular reason, then that may be an alarming call for you. Sudden and excessive thirst and consumption of water more often than your regular capacity can be a sign of your body telling you that there may be an imbalance and you have to do something about it, and it is known as Polydipsia in the medical world.
Thirst is the body’s way of signaling that it needs more water. When the body becomes dehydrated, the brain releases a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which signals the kidneys to conserve water. As a result, the urine becomes more concentrated, and the body begins to feel thirsty. Thirst is typically relieved by drinking fluids, and the body’s internal mechanisms regulate fluid balance to maintain hydration levels.
Common Causes of Excessive Thirst
Dehydration: Dehydration is one of the most common causes of excessive thirst. When the body loses more fluid than it takes in, it becomes dehydrated, and the thirst response is triggered. This can occur from not drinking enough fluids, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, or a medical condition that affects fluid balance.
Diabetes: People with diabetes may experience excessive thirst due to high blood sugar levels. The kidneys attempt to flush out excess sugar by producing more urine, which can lead to dehydration and thirst. If you’re constantly thirsty and experiencing other symptoms such as frequent urination, blurred vision, and fatigue, you should speak to a healthcare provider.
Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics, antihistamines, and blood pressure medications, can cause excessive thirst as a side effect. If you’re taking any medications and experiencing excessive thirst, speak to your healthcare provider.
Mouth Breathing: Breathing through the mouth, especially at night, can cause dryness in the mouth and throat, leading to excessive thirst.
Stress: Stress can cause the body to release cortisol, a hormone that can increase thirst. Stress can also lead to dehydration if it causes excessive sweating or reduces fluid intake.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, kidney disease, and thyroid disorders, can cause excessive thirst.
The probable signs and symptoms of excessive thirst that you can observe are-
- Dark-coloured urine
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Not feeling the need to pee
- Dry skin and mouth
If you feel any of these signs persisting for a longer time than usual, you need to give heed to the amount of water you are consuming daily and what’s causing this incessant thirst.
Medical Conditions Leading to Frequent Thirst
Excessive thirst is much more than the effect of just hot weather or a high-intensity workout. There can be serious medical conditions associated which can lead to polydipsia. These conditions are-
- Diabetes mellitus
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or Type 2 diabetes, in particular, can be one of the leading causes of excessive thirst. If the blood sugar levels are elevated enough, the sugar begins to leave the bloodstream through the kidneys and enters the urine. These sugar or glucose molecules start leaking out through the filtration system of the kidneys and enter into the urine.
The glucose starts drawing water and thus, the amount of urine formed and frequency of urination increases. The increased frequency of urination results in loss of fluids leading to dehydration and excessive thirst. This is why diabetic patients need extra fluids, vitamins, and minerals so that they don’t get dried up too soon. Diabetic drinks are a smart choice to cover up all the fluid loss while keeping sugar levels in control.
One of the very obvious conditions causing excessive thirst is dehydration. As we have already discussed, it occurs when the body lacks adequate fluids and electrolytes to function properly.
Dehydration can be caused due to ample reasons like strenuous workouts, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Severe dehydration can lead to life-threatening situations, especially in infants and children. Thus, it is advised to monitor the amount of fluid consumed by you on a regular basis.
- Diabetes insipidus
This is a condition that occurs when the body does not make enough of a hormone that helps your kidneys control the amount of water in your body.
As a result, the person feels more and more thirsty and suffers dehydration. This condition can also cause frequent urination issues.
It is a dangerous medical condition caused due to severe inflammatory reactions due to bacterial infection in the body. This leads to failure of multiple organ systems causing low blood pressure, severe fluid loss, breathing problems etc. Intravenous fluids and antibiotics are possible treatment options for sepsis.
Anemia is not a very prominent cause of excessive thirst but you might crave more water if the conditions become worse.
The body doesn’t have healthy RBCs during anemia resulting in severe blood loss. It can be both an acquired and an inherited health problem. Other symptoms of anemia include sweating, chills, fatigue, dizziness, pale skin, chest pain, cold hands, and feet etc.
Hypercalcemia is a health disorder where the calcium levels of the body are above the normal range. This can pose serious threats to the overall health of an individual.
Too much calcium means that the kidneys have to work harder in order to filter leading to increased and frequent urination.
This results in heavy fluid loss from the body making the person crave more and more water and getting thirsty more often than usual.
Remedies and Relief for Excessive Thirst
Drink fluids: Drinking fluids can help you stay hydrated and reduce feelings of thirst. When you drink fluids, your body absorbs the liquid and uses it to replenish fluids lost through sweating, breathing, and other bodily functions. When you become dehydrated, your body loses more fluid than it takes in, which can lead to feelings of thirst as well as other symptoms such as dry mouth, fatigue, and headache. Drinking fluids can help to reverse these symptoms by providing the body with the water it needs to function properly.
Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: If you have diabetes, it’s essential to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for insulin or medication. Maintaining proper blood sugar levels can reduce excessive thirst and other diabetes-related symptoms.
Manage Stress: If stress is a contributing factor to your excessive thirst, try practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. Reducing stress can help regulate cortisol levels and reduce excessive thirst.
Avoid Certain Medications: If you’re taking medications that cause excessive thirst, speak to your healthcare provider about alternative medications or dosage adjustments.
Use a Humidifier: If mouth breathing is causing dryness in the mouth and throat, use a humidifier at night to add moisture to the air and relieve thirst.
Address Medical Conditions: If you suspect that a medical condition is causing excessive thirst, speak to your healthcare provider for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.
Optimum fluid needs of the body
To keep your body hydrated and active, regular fluid intake is necessary. But along with it comes the role of optimum fluid capacity. Overhydration can be as fatal as dehydration.
For adults, the general recommendation from The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine here is about-
- 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) a day for women
- 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) a day for men
These values can differ according to the body type of an individual.
According to the CDC, there are no official guidelines about how much water a person needs to drink each day.
The right amount of intake depends on various factors including-
- Bodyweight of an individual
- The climate in which he/she is living
- Level of intensity of physical activity
- Other health comorbidities
A common method to know if you are having optimum fluid is checking your urine colour. If it’s pale and clear, you are good to go.
Apart from water, your body requires fluid from other sources as well like electrolyte drinks. You can get hold of water-rich foods like watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, melons etc. to maintain hydration.
A very important fact to be noted here is that the kidneys can remove 20–28 litres of water per day, but they cannot excrete more than 0.8 to 1.0 litres per hour. This can be a marker for a person to keep in check the amount of fluid being consumed.
Seeking medical help
Generally, quenching thirst by consuming water in itself is enough to overcome dehydration and polydipsia but there are some extreme conditions when you must not hesitate to visit your doctor.
These conditions are when-
- Your thirst is persistent
- You are urinating more than 2.5 litres a day
- You are having fatigue, feeling of excessive hunger, thirst
- You experience blurry vision
If diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus are your causing factors for excessive thirst, your doctor would prescribe you medications. You also need to keep your insulin injections in check.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another form of medical treatment which involves therapy or psychological counselling if your excessive thirst is associated with a psychological cause.
Excessive thirst can be controlled by adopting some lifestyle modifications like a better nutrition plan, consuming the optimum amount of fluids and keeping in check your body hydration capacity.
With underlying health conditions present, it is advised to seek medical help to prevent future complications.
Excessive Thirst FAQs
What are some foods that can help me stay hydrated?
Many foods contain high amounts of water and can help you stay hydrated, including:
- Fruits, such as watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, and grapes
- Vegetables, such as cucumber, lettuce, celery, and tomatoes
- Soups and broths
- Smoothies and shakes
- Herbal teas and other non-caffeinated beverages
Incorporating these foods into your diet can be a good way to supplement your fluid intake and support overall hydration.
Is it possible to drink too much water?
Yes, it is possible to drink too much water, a condition called hyponatremia or water intoxication. Hyponatremia occurs when the balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted by overhydration, which can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, seizures, and even coma in severe cases. It’s important to drink fluids in moderation and pay attention to your body’s signals of thirst and hydration.
Can excessive thirst be a sign of pregnancy?
Yes, excessive thirst can be a sign of pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body’s fluid needs increase, and some women may experience increased thirst as a result. However, excessive thirst can also be a symptom of other medical conditions, so it’s important to speak to a healthcare provider to determine the cause of excessive thirst.
How much water should I drink per day?
The amount of water you need to drink per day can vary depending on factors such as your age, gender, weight, and activity level. As a general guideline, it’s recommended that adults drink at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water per day. However, some people may need more or less depending on their individual needs. It’s also important to note that other fluids, such as juice, milk, and herbal tea, can contribute to your daily fluid intake.
What are the signs of dehydration?
The signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth and throat
- Dark yellow urine or reduced urine output
- Dry skin
- Fatigue or dizziness
- Muscle weakness or Muscle cramps
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing
If left untreated, dehydration can lead to more severe symptoms, such as confusion, seizures, or even coma.