Thirst - excessive
Excessive thirst is an abnormal feeling of always needing to drink fluids.
Drinking lots of water is usually healthy. However, the urge to drink too much beyond a certain limit may be the result of an underlying disease, either physical or emotional. Excessive thirst may be a symptom of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), and can be an important clue in detecting diabetes.
Excessive thirst is a fairly common symptom. It is often the reaction to fluid loss during exercise, or to eating salty foods.
- A recent salty or spicy meal
- Bleeding enough to cause a significant decrease in blood volume
- Diabetes insipidus
- Drugs such as anticholinergics, demeclocycline, diuretics, phenothiazines
- Excessive loss of water and salt (possibly due to not drinking enough water, profuse sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting)
- Loss of body fluids from the bloodstream into the tissues due to:
- Conditions such as severe infections (sepsis) or burns
- Heart, liver, or kidney failure
- Psychogenic polydipsia, the result of a mental disorder, is a condition causes a person to drink too much
Because thirst is usually the body's signal to replace water loss, it is usually appropriate to drink plenty of liquids.
A very strong, constant urge to drink may be a sign of a psychological problem, which may mean psychological help is needed.
For thirst caused by diabetes, follow the prescribed treatment to properly control blood sugar levels.
- Excessive thirst is persistent and unexplained
- Thirst is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms, such as blurry vision and fatigue
- You are passing more than 5 quarts of urine per day
The health care provider will get your medical history and perform a physical examination.
Medical history questions may include the following:
- How long have you been aware of having increased thirst?
- Is it consistent during the day?
- Is it worse during the day?
- Did it develop suddenly or slowly?
- Are you eating more salty or spicy foods?
- How much salt do you have each day?
- Did you change your diet?
- Have you noticed an increased appetite?
- Have you noticed an unintentional weight gain?
- Have you noticed an unintentional weight loss?
- Has your activity level recently increased?
- What other symptoms are happening at the same time?
- Have you recently suffered a burn or other injury?
- Are you urinating more or less frequently than usual?
- Are you producing more or less urine than usual?
- Have you noticed any bleeding?
- Are you sweating more than usual?
- Is there any swelling in your body?
- Do you have a fever?
A psychological evaluation may be recommended if compulsive thirst of psychological origin is suspected. Fluid intake and output will be closely watched.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Reviewed By: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.