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Why Are You Always Thirsty: Common Reasons for Excessive Thirst

Being thirsty from time to time is normal. However, if you find yourself wondering why you’re thirsty all the time, you may be suffering from excessive thirst. Feeling thirsty all the time could be an indication of a medical issue. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of excessive thirst.

Feeling thirsty is normal. Feeling thirsty when you’re drinking plenty of water is not. Every person gets thirsty throughout the day. Drinking several glasses of water during the day is crucial. Our bodies need water for many vital bodily functions such as removing waste and regulating body temperature. 

If you’re always thirsty or experiencing excessive thirst at night, even after you drink water, it can be a sign of a health issue.

The medical term for excessive thirst is polydipsia. The name derives from two Greek words: polus, which means “much,” and dipsa, which means “thirst.” Polydipsia is a nonspecific symptom of various medical disorders. If you drink a lot of water and still feel dehydrated, you may have polydipsia.

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Excessive thirst is the abnormal urge to drink fluids with an unquenchable thirst. It can be helpful to understand the difference between regular thirst and polydipsia. Some of the signs and symptoms of polydipsia are:

  • Peeing more than 1.25 gallons (5 liters) a day
  • Having a constant, unexplained thirst that won’t go away regardless of how much you drink
  • Temporary or prolonged dry mouth 

Thirst is a sign from the brain to the body that you’re dehydrated and need to drink more fluids. However, in cases of polydipsia, excessive and increased thirst can be a sign of an underlying health problem.

In most cases, if you’re feeling thirsty, you need to drink more fluids. Potential excessive thirst causes include the following scenarios:

  • You ate a lot of salty or spicy food.
  • You sweat a lot during a recent exercise.
  • You’re sick and experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.
  • You’re sweating profusely.
  • You’re anemic.
  • You’ve experienced significant blood loss.
  • You’re on medication that causes excessive thirst.
  • You aren’t drinking enough fluids.
  • You drank too much caffeine or alcohol.
  • You have a high temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or above.
  • You’re pregnant.

Sometimes, feelings of increased thirst can be a result of high blood sugar in people with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Persistent excessive thirst can be due to:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetes insipidus — This condition is unrelated to diabetes mellitus and affects the kidneys and hypothalamus hormone vasopressin. A person with diabetes insipidus often produces larger quantities of urine. 
  • Dehydration
  • A loss of body fluids from the bloodstream into the tissues. This can be due to liver, heart, or kidney failure; burns; or sepsis (severe infection).
  • Psychogenic polydipsia, a condition where a person compulsively drinks water as a result of an existing mental or psychiatric disorder.
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)

Excessive thirst is considered one of the three big signs of diabetes mellitus.

Another medical term associated with excessive thirst is primary polydipsia, also known as dipsogenic diabetes insipidus. Primary polydipsia is a condition that can cause the production of large amounts of diluted urine. The underlying cause of the primary polydipsia is drinking an excessive amount of fluids. 

Some people develop primary polydipsia after damage to the hypothalamus, which is the region of the brain responsible for regulating thirst. Primary polydipsia has been linked to certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. 

Some people confuse their symptoms for excessive thirst when they just have a dry mouth. Signs of a dry mouth are:

  • Changes in your sense of taste
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or eating
  • A burning sensation or soreness in your mouth

Excessive thirst can be a symptom of a health condition, and treatment will vary depending on the root issue. 

If you’re constantly wondering why you’re always thirsty or you’re waking up thirsty, it could be a sign of a health complication. 

Try to drink a lot of fluids and see if your excessive thirst goes away. Feeling thirsty is usually an indication of being dehydrated. The symptoms and signs of dehydration are:

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Constipation

The symptoms and signs of extreme dehydration are:

  • Sunken eyes
  • A weak pulse or rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling confused
  • Memory problems 
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness)

You’ve probably heard that drinking eight glasses of water a day is ideal. But does that apply to everyone? Your daily fluid intake is the amount of water you get from eating food and drinking water and other beverages. Your daily fluid intake recommendation varies depending on your age, sex, pregnancy status, and breastfeeding status. 

Most healthy people get enough to drink by listening to their bodies and allowing their level of thirst to guide them. A report by the Food and Nutrition Board set general recommendations of 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water per day for women and 125 ounces (3.7 liters) for men. 

About 80 percent of people’s daily total fluid intake comes from drinking water and beverages, including caffeinated beverages. The remaining 20 percent comes from food. 

Lots of physical activity and heat exposure can make you sweat and lose a significant amount of water. Make sure to drink more water in either of these cases. 

It’s crucial to note that drinking excessive amounts of water can be life-threatening. Drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication, which dilutes the amount of electrolytes and salt in the body. 

You should see your health care provider if you experience any of the following scenarios in combination with excessive thirst:

  • Drinking more fluids for several days hasn’t helped the situation.
  • You frequently need to pee and are passing more than 1.25 gallons (4.73 liters) of urine per day.
  • The thirst is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms such as fatigue or blurry vision.
  • You’re pregnant.

Your health care provider will try to identify what’s causing your excessive thirst; for example, testing for diabetes and anemia or reviewing any medication you’re taking. Some of the tests your health care provider may run include:

  • CBC and white blood cell differential
  • Blood glucose level
  • Serum calcium
  • Serum osmolality
  • Serum sodium
  • Urine osmolality
  • Urinalysis

The treatment prescribed by your health care provider will be based on the root cause of your excessive thirst. 

The average person’s body weight is made up of between 50 and 75 percent water. Drinking enough fluids throughout the day is essential for your body’s performance and general health, including the health of your digestion, brain, heart, muscles, and skin. 

Fluids transport essential nutrients to your cells, maintain a balance of nutrients in your body, and help remove waste from your body. Proper hydration can help support healthy energy levels and help prevent constipation. It has also been known to reduce the risks of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, stroke, and fatal heart disease. 

Everyone gets thirsty throughout their day and sometimes thirsty at night. However, if you’re feeling excessive thirst that’s stronger than usual and isn’t subsiding after drinking fluids, make sure to talk to a health care provider. 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thirst/

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/symptoms/polydipsia.html

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003085.htm

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/thirst

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes-insipidus/symptoms-causes/syc-20351269

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/dehydration-and-diabetes.html

https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html

http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21140-hydration

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