Polydipsia is a medical name for the feeling of extreme thirstiness. Polydipsia is often linked to urinary conditions that cause you to urinate a lot. This can make your body feel a constant need to replace the fluids lost in urination. It can also be caused by physical processes that cause you to lose a lot of fluid. This can include sweating during exercise, eating a high-salt diet, or taking drugs that cause you to pass a lot of fluid, such as diuretics. This condition is considered one of the earliest symptoms of diabetes. It’s especially common in diabetes mellitus. This type of diabetes includes a few conditions that make it harder for your body to process and use glucose, also called blood sugar. When your body can’t properly digest blood sugars, your blood sugar levels can get abnormally high. High blood sugar levels can cause you to feel extremely thirst as a result.
Polydipsia can be caused simply by not drinking enough water after you lose a lot of fluid. If you sweat a lot or drink certain fluids, such as coffee or green and black tea, you’ll often feel extremely thirsty as your body seeks to replace the fluid that’s been lost. Dehydration due to not drinking enough water is also a common cause of polydipsia. You can feel this whether or not you’ve been sweating or urinating a lot. Polyuria, a condition in which you pass abnormally large amounts of urine, can also cause polydipsia.
Polydipsia is also an early symptom of diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus causes polydipsia because your blood sugar levels get too high and make you feel thirsty, regardless of how much water you drink. Diabetes insipidus occurs when your body’s fluid levels are out of balance. Even though you may drink a lot of water, you still may feel an urgent need to drink more fluids. You may urinate a lot even when you haven’t had that much to drink. Other recorded causes of polydipsia include:
- certain medications, such as corticosteroids or diuretics in pill form, such as water pills
- consuming a lot of salt or vitamin D in foods or drinks
- boredom or anxiety that causes you to drink a lot of water due to nervousness, which has also been observed in horses and dogs
The most obvious symptom of polydipsia is a feeling of extreme thirstiness. This symptom is especially noticeable when you feel this way even after you’ve already drunk a lot of water. Other common symptoms of polydipsia include:
- passing abnormally high amounts of urine (more than 5 liters a day)
- a persistent feeling of dryness in your mouth
You might notice other symptoms if your polydipsia is due to an underlying condition like diabetes. Some common diabetes mellitus symptoms that might accompany polydipsia include:
- feeling abnormally hungry
- having blurry vision
- abnormal weight loss
- getting frequent sores or infections
- slow healing of sores or infections
Treatment for polydipsia may depend on the condition that’s causing it. Your doctor will likely do the following to diagnose you:
- perform blood tests
- take a urine sample
- ask you to drink less fluid for a certain amount of time (a fluid deprivation test)
If diabetes mellitus is causing your polydipsia, your doctor will likely give you a medication to control your blood sugar. You may also need to give yourself regular insulin injections. Your doctor may also recommend developing a nutrition plan to help you eat and drink a balanced diet to help treat your diabetes symptoms. An exercise plan may help keep you physically healthy and fit.