Too much thirst

Thirst is a basic instinct to drink. The need to drink arises when a body becomes deficient in fluids or there is a change in cellular osmosis.

Natural causes of thirst and dry mouth are often associated with

  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Eating salty or spicy foods
  • Excessive sweating
  • Breathing at night through mouth
  • Anxiety – possible thirst causes are excessive urination and sweating, mouth breathing causing dry mouth, perceived sensation of dehydration and hypochondria, elevated adrenaline levels
  • Loss of fluids via urination and diarrhea
  • Dry climates or low humidity in winter
  • Adapted water baseline – if water intake has been increased for significant amount of time and then suddenly decreased, the body may take some time to adjust to new water consumption rate, assuming the intake is adequate
  • Drinking too much water which may cause an electrolyte imbalance

Too much thirst (polydipsia) in conjunction with excessive urination (polyuria) could be an indication of health problem, such as

  • Diabetes Mellitus – chronic elevation of blood sugar levels due to either Type 1 DM when the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin or Type 2 DM where insulin resistance results in cellular inability to use insulin properly
  • Diabetes Insipidus – impaired functions of kidneys what results in inability to conserve water
  • Gestational Diabetes – an elevated blood sugar levels that occurs typically on the 24th week of pregnancy

Other factors and conditions that may contribute to sensation of excessive much thirst are

  • Drinking too much water in a day, may cause moderate electrolyte imbalances resulting in many symptoms, including excessive thirst. Continue to drink a lot will worsen the condition while depleting electrolytes
  • Temporary changes in osmoregulation during menstrual cycle
  • Vitamin deficiency – caused by unbalanced diet or existing medical condition(s)
  • Hypokalemia – low potassium levels in the blood serum
  • Hypercalcemia – too much calcium in blood
  • Hyponatremia – an electrolyte imbalance where the blood sodium levels are too low
  • Cushing syndrome – expressed in abnormal levels of cortisol production
  • Psychogenic polydipsia – mental disorder
  • Hormonal misballances
  • Methylation process abnormalities
  • Sickle cell anemia – a genetic disease of red blood cells
  • Liver conditions
  • Hyperparathyroidism – when bio-availability of parathyroid hormone is too high
  • Adrenal cortical carcinoma – caused by cancerous growth within an adrenal cortex
  • Excessive rate of fluids transfer from bloodstream into tissues due to severe infections, burns and organ failures
  • Heavy bleeding

Too much thirst can be a result from taking medications and supplements

  • Supplements such as vitamins, probiotics and milk thistle
  • Antihistamines – allergy medications
  • Diuretics – promotion of urine production
  • Beta blockers medications – beta-adrenergics that block norepinephrine and epinephrine neurotransmitters
  • Anticholinergics medications – neurotransmitter blockers that also decrease saliva production
  • Demeclocycline medications – antibacterial tetracycline antibiotic agent
  • Phenothiazines medications – treatment of mental disorders

General recommendations for excessive thirst management

  • Balancing of diet to insure the proper equilibrium of minerals /electrolytes. I good way to naturally replenish lost electrolytes is to squeeze half a lemon in a glass of warm water and drink upon wake up. Clean your teeth afterwords to prevent damage to teeth enamel
  • Reducing the amount of supplements and medications under doctor’s supervision
  • Avoiding processed foods that contain excessive amounts of sodium
  • Avoiding diets unreasonably low in sodium
  • Regulating water intake and avoiding drinking too much soda
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, cranberry juice and excessive tea drinking as these function as diuretics
  • Avoiding excessive sugar consumption

Some of the diagnostic tests to rule out medical conditions associated with excessive thirst are

  • Blood glucose level
  • Complete blood count with differential
  • Serum calcium
  • Serum osmolality
  • Serum sodium
  • Urinalysis including osmolality

It is important to note that even low level of continuous dehydration can cause many problems. Most commonly chronic dehydration is associated with kidney problems and neurological disorders that cause seizures.

In people over the age of 50 years, the thirst sensation is diminished, thus making them more susceptible to dehydration, especially women. With aging, regardless of energy consumption, the requirement of water intake remains the same due to reduced kidneys’ abilities to conserve water. Therefore, if you are over age 50 and always replenish your body with fluids, even if you feel you need to drink very little to feel normal.

The minimum water intake per 24-hour period

  • For a man, 5-10 8oz., cups
  • For a woman, 4-9 8oz., cups for women.

Note that the above water consumption amounts are for reference purpose only. If you consume a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, the hydration will mostly come from the diet and the number of glasses of water required will significantly decrease. The requirement will also vary depending on physical activity and environmental humidity.

The best way to get your required water daily intake is to listen to your body. If you feel thirst, sip the fluids slowly. Drinking fast will create more thirst.

Important note: Drinking too much water may cause water intoxication.