Symptoms

Increased thirst – causes, treatment

Increased thirst

Increased thirst, strong thirstincreased thirst or polydipsia are usually symptom terms in a medical context that can indicate a disease. Strong thirst is particularly evident in metabolic diseases. A general definition of thirst can be found here: What is thirst?.

What is strong thirst?

First of all, thirst is a normal and healthy desire to absorb water. Since the human body needs water or liquid for the normal functioning of metabolism and other vital processes, the feeling of thirst is a vital condition.

An adult usually needs 3 liters for daily needs. Depending on physical activity or environment (for example, desert vs. Arctic), the need may be higher or lower. Likewise, thirst can be dependent on minerals, such as salts, that have been ingested directly or through food. If the salt content is higher than needed, the thirst also grows. This balancing of salts and liquid is also called osmotic pressure or osmosis.

Causes

Rather normal and harmless causes of greater thirst are sweating, physical exercise and ambient temperature. Increased thirst can also occur with feverdiarrheavomitingburns and blood loss, as this usually led to fluid loss.

However, greatly increased thirst is often also due to metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus (diabetes) or hormonal disorders. Likewise, diseases related to the thyroid gland and kidneys can also cause increased thirst. Psychological causes are also sometimes the basis of the strong feeling of thirst. The increased thirst is often accompanied by frequent urination.

Polydipsia, i.e. pathologically increased thirst, is caused by various metabolic disorders. These include, above all, diabetes mellitus (diabetes) and diabetes insipidus, in which there is a deficiency of a certain hormone. Often there is also a strong feeling of thirst after heavy alcohol consumption, which is colloquially known as “brand”.

Diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & course

Any unusual, persistent feeling of thirst, which is not comprehensible due to greater fluid loss, requires a rapid diagnosis of its cause.

A detailed conversation with the patient about the duration and intensity of thirst as well as nutritional behavior and possible pre-existing conditions often allows the physician to draw initial conclusions about triggering factors. Detailed laboratory examinations of blood and urine crystallize the most common diseases behind this symptom, such as a disturbed mineral balance or diabetes.

A causally untreated strong feeling of thirst leads to severe headaches and high blood pressure after just a few hours, subsequently the person concerned suffers a circulatory collapse and clear signs of dehydration. After two to three days, unconsciousness and death threaten.

Complications

An increased thirst does not necessarily indicate a medical complication and can also occur in hot weather or after a strenuous sporting activity. In these cases, treatment by the doctor is necessary and the thirst disappears when the patient has consumed enough fluids. However, if the increased thirst occurs in the long term and does not disappear even with enough fluid intake, it indicates another disease and must be treated in any case.

As a rule, the increased thirst occurs mainly in diabetes. In these cases, the doctor can perform a test relatively quickly and easily to detect this disease. If the increased thirst occurs due to diabetes, it can be brought under control with a regulated blood sugar level. A change in diet can also be helpful and support the body. Surgical treatment is usually not provided.

Furthermore, it can be a disorder of the kidneys. Here is also the visit of a doctor necessary. In most cases, the increased thirst leads to dehydration of the skin and lips, which can be harmful to the skin, especially in winter. Early treatment is important to avoid consequential damage.

When to go to the doctor?

In most cases, increased thirst can be relieved independently by drinking enough. However, if the thirst persists despite everything, a doctor should clarify the cause. This is especially true if the increased thirst lasts for several days or weeks, is accompanied by accompanying symptoms or generally has a negative effect on the physical and mental condition.

Strong thirst, which is associated with weight loss or increased urination, requires a medical examination in any case. It is possible that the symptoms are based on a serious illness such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, which must be clarified quickly and, if necessary, treated. Often a new drug or a change in lifestyle is responsible for the increased thirst.

A doctor should be consulted if the feeling of thirst is not due to any specific cause (physical activity, alcohol consumption, diarrhoea, etc.) and has a negative effect on the general condition. Children and adolescents who complain of increased thirst should be seen immediately. This is especially true if the feeling of thirst increases rapidly and is associated with symptoms such as exhaustion, dizziness and lack of concentration.

Treatment & Therapy

If the increased thirst is not due to a normal cause, such as sweating, a doctor should be consulted. Often there is a disease such as diabetes mellitus (diabetes) or diabetes insipidus (urinary dysentery) and should be treated. The doctor will conduct an intensive survey on increased thirst and urination. After that, he will initiate an extensive physical examination.

This includes a blood test as well as the laboratory examination of urine. In the blood test, the hormone balance is also checked for abnormalities. Once the cause of the increased thirst has finally been determined, individual therapy or treatment can begin. For this purpose, as already noted, the underlying disease should first be treated, if any.

In diabetes mellitus, the aim should be to return blood sugar levels to normal. With diabetes insipidus it is necessary to regulate the electrolyte balance to normal values. If this is successful, the increased feeling of thirst will return to a healthy level.

Outlook & Forecast

Increased thirst is a natural signal from the body to drink more. However, it can also be the first signs of diabetes mellitus. Therefore, it is important for the prognosis to determine the underlying causes of the increased feeling of thirst.

Excessive thirst may indicate insufficient fluid intake or greater fluid loss. Both can counteract the affected person by appropriate drinking behavior. Older people can put the required daily drinking amount within sight. Your feeling of thirst disappears or is deliberately ignored. Children generally have increased thirst. You should be offered plenty of fluids. For both, the prognosis is good if the amount of fluid is sufficient.

However, the daily amount of fluid must be increased if diarrhoea occurs. The loss of fluid and electrolytes should be compensated in a timely manner. Depending on the duration of the diarrhoeal disease, the prognosis of increased thirst is good. However, if it is the consequences of a food intolerance or food allergy, this should be investigated.

Increased thirst can be a symptom of diabetes. Under medical supervision and with adequate treatment, the prognosis can be good. However, the underlying condition worsens over time. In kidney diseases requiring dialysis, increased thirst is normal due to the forced reduction in the amount of drinking. Here, the prognosis is worse due to the underlying disease.

What you can do yourself

In case of increased thirst, various measures and home remedies can help. First of all, it makes sense to quench the feeling of thirst through regular and, above all, sufficient fluid intake. In addition to mineral water and juice, proven thirst quenchers are tea with mint or fennel, sorrel tea and unsweetened lemon juice. A tea made from fresh raisins is also considered an important nutrient supplier and good remedy for thirst.

During pregnancy, increased thirst can also be relieved by raspberry leaf tea and healthy fruit juices made from bananas, oranges and apricots. The drinks mentioned can be seasoned with cinnamon or ginger, among other things. Both plants lower blood pressure and relieve thirst naturally. Otherwise, regular exercise and, above all, sporting activity helps. Those who sweat a lot automatically regulate their thirst and should quickly notice an improvement in their symptoms.

However, if the increased thirst persists, there may be an underlying disease. Then a visit to the doctor is recommended to clarify the causes and avoid impending dehydration. In addition, a complaint diary can be created in which the occurrence and intensity of the feelings of thirst are recorded.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.