Excessive thirst is an abnormal feeling of always needing to drink fluids.
Drinking lots of water is usually healthy. But 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). It can be an important clue in detecting diabetes.
Excessive thirst is a common symptom. It is often the reaction to fluid loss during exercise or to eating salty foods.
Because thirst is the body's signal to replace water loss, it is usually appropriate to drink plenty of liquids.
For thirst caused by diabetes, follow the prescribed treatment to properly control your blood sugar level.
The health care provider will get your medical history and perform a physical examination.
Medical history questions may include:
Tests that may be ordered include the following:
Based on your evaluation and any tests, your health care provider will recommend treatment if needed. For example, if tests show you have diabetes, you will need to start treatment for this condition.
A very strong, constant urge to drink may be sign of a psychological problem. A psychological evaluation may be recommended if the health care provider suspects a psychological compulsive thirst. Your fluid intake and output will be closely watched.
Increased thirst; Polydipsia; Excessive thirst
Gibbs MA, Tayal VS. Electrolyte disturbances. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 123.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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