It is normal to feel thirsty after a strenuous workout or being in the scorching sun for some time or eating something spicy. Your body calls for it due to dehydration or certain other impulses. But there is a limit to being thirsty.
If you think 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.
Causes of excessive thirst
The main reason your body stimulates thirst is dehydration when it goes low on fluids to carry out day-to-day activities.
There could be many other reasons for this dehydration. We can’t dive into the great details of it here but you can check them out in our dehydration article.
But excessive thirst or polydipsia has many underlying causes associated with it that need to be looked into. These causes are-
- Strenuous workouts
- Eating too spicy or salty foods
- Blood loss
- Certain prescription medications
The probable signs and symptoms of excessive thirst that you can observe are-
- Dark-colored 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 craving for more and more water and getting thirsty more often than usual.
Diagnosing excessive thirst
Excessive thirst can lead to many serious health concerns, Thus, it is important to seek medical help if the situation isn’t improving for a long time.
Diagnosing thirst and treating it requires your doctor to conduct some physical and oral blood and urine tests to bring out the exact causes.
Your doctor would interrogate you regarding your medical history including all the other comorbidities you had or are having, list of all the medications consumed by you, and basic observations.
The common blood and urine tests include-
- Blood glucose test
- Serum electrolyte levels
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 liters) a day for women
- 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) 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 color. 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 liters of water per day, but they cannot excrete more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters 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 counseling 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 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.