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Alternative Names Return to topIncreased thirst; Polydipsia; Excessive thirst
Definition Return to top
Excessive thirst is an abnormal feeling of always needing to drink fluids.
Considerations Return to top
Drinking lots of water is usually healthy. However, 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 fairly common symptom. It is often the reaction to fluid loss during exercise, or to eating salty foods.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
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.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The health care provider will get your medical history and perform a physical examination.
Medical history questions may include the following:
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.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
References Return to top
Robinson AG, Verbalis JG. Posterior pituitary. In: Kronenberg HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 9.
Oh MS. Evaluation of renal function, water, electrolytes, and acid-base balance. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2006:chap 14.Update Date: 2/22/2009 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.