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 be due to 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 liquids until the thirst sensation is gone.
For thirst caused by diabetes, follow the prescribed treatment to properly control your blood sugar level.
Contact 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.
Guber HA, Oprea M, Russell YX. Evaluation of endocrine function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 25.
Verbalis JG. Disorders of water balance. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 15.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 2/2/2023
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Health Content Provider
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2023 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.