Increased thirst; Polydipsia; Excessive thirst
Excessive thirst is an abnormal feeling of always needing to drink fluids.
Drinking lots of water is healthy in most cases. The urge to drink too much may be the result of a physical or emotional disease. Excessive thirst may be a symptom of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which may help in detecting diabetes.
Excessive thirst is a common symptom. It is often the reaction to fluid loss during exercise or to eating salty foods.
Causes may include:
Because thirst is the body's signal to replace water loss, it is most often appropriate to drink plenty of liquids.
For thirst caused by diabetes, follow the prescribed treatment to properly control your blood sugar level.
Call your health care provider if:
The provider will get your medical history and perform a physical exam.
The provider may ask you questions such as:
Tests that may be ordered include the following:
Your provider will recommend treatment if needed based on your exam and tests. For example, if tests show you have diabetes, you will need to get treated.
A very strong, constant urge to drink may be the sign of a psychological problem. You may need a psychological evaluation if the provider suspects this is a cause. Your fluid intake and output will be closely watched.
Al-Awqati Q. Disorders of sodium and water homeostasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 108.
Mortada R. Diabetes insipidus. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:290-293.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/16/2021
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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