Polydipsia – Excessive Thirst: It’s Not A Disease, It’s A Symptom

It is not a disease or disorder but a symptom of many conditions characterized by an excessive need to drink fluid or excessive thirst.

Therefore, the excess need to quench a thirst leads an affected individual to take a lot of water or any fluid that can potentially establish an imbalance in the body’s fluids and electrolytes.

Thirst is the body’s way of signaling that it needs fluids. Sometimes it increases when the fluid content in the body is too low and there is no fluid intake.

The intensity of thirst is somewhat proportional to the low level of fluid contained in the body. In other words, the less liquid there is in the body, the more intense the sensation of thirst will be.

However, there are times when the fluid content in the body is within a normal range, but thirst persists. Polydipsia is another word for excessive thirst.

Polydipsia is often associated with polyuria, the excessive amount of urine released against the amount of fluid intake or about the amount of fluid intake.

Thirst is the physiological need to take a quantity of water or liquid.


It is a corrective mechanism of the body to correct and control the fluid balance in the body physiologically.

Excess in thirst can be a symptom of several medical conditions, and recognition of the physiology of hunger will help to appreciate the importance of desire as a symptom.

The thirst will lead an individual to take the fluid as a regulatory component. The balance of the fluid will maintain the proper secretion of the antidiuretic hormone, which is secreted by the hypothalamus when there is an increase in plasma osmolality.

Drinking water or other liquid in response to thirst thus contributes to the maintenance of the osmolality of the blood.

The amount of thirst and the amount of fluid needed to quench thirst is relative to blood osmolality while the brain is sent a signal to inhibit fluid overload.

A decrease in blood pressure or blood volume also stimulates or causes thirst. It is believed that vasopressin and human chorionic gonadotropin enable thirst during the pregnancy process.

Advanced age stimulates thirst and, therefore, a decrease in primary appetite, which, on the other hand, is rewarded by secondary consumption.

Graciously baptized as the condition of “the man of drinking water,” those cases are associated with a person who is thirsty all the time without being able to satisfy him with more quantity of water than he drinks.

Everyone knows the feeling of thirst. For example, a person can drink large amounts of liquid and relieve it after eating salty foods or after vigorous exercise, and even on a day of very high temperatures.

However, this thirst usually does not last long and is easily removed with liquids. Not so when there is polydipsia.

Polydipsia can be influenced or caused by many factors, including numerous diseases and disorders that can trigger constant thirst and the need to quench that thirst.

Symptoms of polydipsia

  • Polyuria.
  • Extreme and uncontrolled hunger.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Genital itching
  • Slow healing of wounds or cuts.
  • Weight change (gain or loss).
  • Frequent infections
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.



Diabetes is the most involved in the incidence of polydipsia. Both diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus can trigger polydipsia often as a side effect of diabetes medication.

Polydipsia is also one of the symptoms of diabetes, and it is also the effect of the failure to take medication for diabetes, including the inability to dose the drug.

Diabetes insipidus is a rare condition unrelated to diabetes mellitus. Instead, it refers to a hormone called vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone that helps control the elimination of fluids through the kidneys.

Diabetes insipidus is caused by low vasopressin levels or when the kidneys do not respond adequately to this hormone. A person with diabetes insipidus often passes large amounts of clean, odorless urine.

However, some medical studies indicate that a person with uncorrected diabetes insipidus is usually very thirsty, subsequently developing a picture of polydipsia. But, rarely, severe dehydration can occur at the same time.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • However.
  • Dry skin or eyes
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Slowness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.

It should be noted that people with any of the last three symptoms should seek specialized medical attention immediately, even if they do not think they are dehydrated.

Psychogenic polydipsia is a condition that tends to be diagnosed when a person compulsively feels the need to drink as if he were dehydrated, even if they are not; likewise, they do not seem to have any other justification to explain their extreme thirst.

That is to say, the sensation of dehydration and thirst appears, either on a temperate afternoon while watching television or when lying down reading a book; that is, it is unpredictable.

In a separate case, it must be said that psychogenic polydipsia can occur in certain psychiatric conditions. Those identified to date include schizophrenia, bipolar disease, and depression.

When there are no justifications for this biological or physiological condition, then the mental factor is intimately related to this rare disease.

What could be a physiological condition later becomes a merely mental condition, as it is produced psychologically.

However, it is known that other mental health disorders can have the same symptoms. And this is true because there are many medications administered for these mental conditions that increase thirst exponentially.

Two terms used to describe this situation are “drinking compulsive water” and “self-induced water poisoning.”

Upon hearing the word ” water, “the person who suffers from this rare condition, upon hearing the word “water,” can, in some cases, depending on the level of severity, look for almost any liquid to quench the sensation of thirst.

PH level

The deviation of the pH level in normal plasma can also lead to polydipsia. The variation in the stories is often the result of the imbalance in the average level of acid and base of the body.

This will lead an affected individual to a level of dehydration that will unleash the excess need to quench their thirst.


Diarrhea is a condition characterized by reduced stool consistency and increased bowel movement.

This condition is potential for dehydration due to increased fluid secretion in the intestine accompanied by a reduction in the absorption of fluid from the intestine, thus disrupting the balance of fluid and electrolytes.

Severe burns

Severe burns can also lead to the loss of fluid in the body, which can cause an imbalance in the liquid and electrolytes of the body.

The fluid imbalance in the bloodstream can increase plasma osmolality, hence the physiological driving force of thirst to maintain osmolality in equilibrium.

The pregnancy

Pregnancy is also another factor that triggers excessive thirst and the need to quench that thirst.

The constant thirst is triggered by the low level of osmolality that is believed to be affected by vasopressin and human chorionic gonadotropin.

When should a person consult a doctor?

First of all, it must be said that a health professional can order a urine sample to determine if the symptoms are due to diabetes mellitus.

Now, anyone with polydipsia should see a doctor for a diagnosis. It’s that simple.

In the case of people who already have diabetes mellitus, they may want to check their blood sugar levels before seeing their doctor. So, if the levels are high and a person is experiencing extreme polyuria and hunger, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus is the most likely cause.

However, this information should be given to the doctor and history of fluid intake if possible.

Doctors may perform blood and urine tests to check blood sugar levels and help identify if symptoms are due to diabetes mellitus.

The patient should know that a standard blood test called HbA1c measures a person’s sugar levels during the previous three months and, thus, can be used when diabetes mellitus is first diagnosed.

In the case of pregnant women, the doctor may also order an oral glucose tolerance test.

However, doctors can order other tests when diabetes mellitus is not the cause or is not the only cause of an individual’s symptoms. These tests include:

  • Control of vasopressin levels.
  • Checking the levels of sodium and potassium in the blood.
  • An examination of liquid deprivation.

It should be kept in mind that some medications can cause or add polydipsia and polyuria. Here, it is vital to communicate with the doctor on duty to make discarding corresponding to the origin of the disease.

In another sense, we must know that diagnosing psychogenic polydipsia can be difficult. And this means that both the caregivers and the family or friends must monitor all the fluids a person drinks.

Liquids can be more than water since they could include drinks such as juice, coffee, soft drinks, and even syrups.

Then finally, it is essential that as soon as the symptoms of this condition appear, go to your doctor to do the respective tests and look for a cure.


Polydipsia is not a disease but often a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It is mainly associated with diabetes mellitus. Polydipsia is also often associated with polyuria, and directly diagnosing the situation is quite tricky.

Research or direct diagnosis of diabetes mellitus can help diagnose polydipsia. The differential diagnosis turned out to be helpful in the diagnosis of polydipsia to isolate it from different related disorders.

The blood serum test is also helpful in diagnosing polydipsia by evaluating the osmolality of extracellular fluids in the body.

The revelation of the decrease in serum concentration in red blood cells, blood urea nitrogen, and sodium means excessive water intake, thus polydipsia.

Treatment for polydipsia

There are numerous treatments for polydipsia since the treatment depends on the underlying cause or condition associated with the onset of polydipsia.

Desmopressin is the drug of choice for polydipsia associated with diabetes and nocturnal polydipsia. It is a synthetically produced drug that acts by replacing vasopressin and helps control polydipsia and polyuria, reducing urine production.

The treatment of psychogenic polydipsia is different from non-psychogenic polydipsia. Psychogenic polydipsia involves dietary controls and monitoring of daily weight fluctuations, including evaluating and managing damage to the urinary system based on the extent and deterioration of the functions.

Early diagnosis and timely treatment of polydipsia are essential to prevent further complications and irreversible damage that can be life-threatening.