Are you always thirsty? Is it difficult to quench your thirst no matter how much water you drink? If yes, then you may be suffering from polydipsia. What is polydipsia? Polydipsia is a condition characterized by excessive thirst. Being thirsty constantly makes you drink more water, which inturn makes you urinate more often. You will need to replace the lost fluids by drinking more water and the cycle continues.
Though being thirsty is normal, but excessive thirst or being thirsty throughout the day is something that needs attention. With polydipsia, you may feel thirsty all the time. Let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms, and management of polydipsia.
Thirst is your body’s natural way of correcting its fluid balance. Normally, though you constantly lose water from your body through sweat and urine, it can easily be replenished by drinking fluids. Polydipsia is a condition where you experience excessive thirst that compels you to drink more water throughout the day. If you have polydipsia, no amount of water seems to quench your thirst.
Polydipsia in most cases is followed by polyuria (increased urination). With polyuria, you may make up to 15 liters of urine in 24 hours. Polydipsia can have different causes such as dehydration or other medical conditions. It is important to identify the cause in order to effectively manage the condition.
The causes of polydipsia include:
Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you consume and your body does not have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions. This makes it necessary that you replace the lost fluids by drinking more water. Common causes of dehydration include diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, or infections affecting your lungs or bladder.
Diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to produce or utilize the hormone insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas and it is responsible for regulating your blood sugar levels. Insulin facilitates the entry of glucose or sugar into your cells, where it is converted into energy. When this process is interrupted, glucose builds up in your body, raising your blood glucose levels. With diabetes mellitus, your kidneys produce more urine in order to excrete the excess glucose in your blood. This loss of fluids increases your thirst and leads to polydipsia.
Diabetes insipidus is different from diabetes mellitus, though they sound similar. It is a rare disorder that causes an imbalance in your body fluids. It occurs as the result of imbalance in the levels of vasopressin or ADH (antidiuretic hormone). It is released by the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland. Any condition that blocks the effect of ADH can cause an increased production of urine, leading to excessive thirst.
Mental conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, etc. can cause an uncontrollable urge to drink water. This condition is called psychogenic polydipsia.
The use of certain drugs can also lead to polydipsia. This includes medications such as corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drugs) and diuretics (pills that increase the amount of water removed from your body as urine). Certain supplements such as vitamin D and K are also found to increase the risk of polydipsia.
Polydipsia is basically classified into primary and secondary, depending upon the cause:
It is characterized by excessive fluid intake without your body actually needing it. This means that the increased fluid intake is not the result of your body trying to replenish the fluid imbalance. It can be caused by stress, anxiety, boredom, or underlying mental health issues. Psychogenic polydipsia is an example of primary polydipsia and is seen in those with psychiatric disorders.
Secondary polydipsia is more common and occurs as the result of an underlying condition. The common causes for secondary polydipsia include dehydration, diabetes mellitus, and diabetes insipidus. Other causes include kidney disorders, Conn’s syndrome (a rare condition that causes fluid imbalance in the body) and sickle cell anemia (an inherited red blood cell disorder). Certain drugs such as diuretics and corticosteroids may also lead to secondary polydipsia.
Here are few common symptoms of polydipsia:
When polydipsia is associated with diabetes, you may experience a number of other symptoms which includes:
If you notice these symptoms and they remain the same for more than a few days, make sure you consult your doctor.
For diagnosing polydipsia, your doctor will perform a physical examination and prescribe certain screening tests depending upon the findings. This may include blood tests and urine analysis that will help in identifying the underlying cause of your condition.
You may also require imaging tests that will help your doctor examine your internal organs for any structural defects. Once the cause is analyzed, your doctor will frame a treatment plan.
The treatment of polydipsia usually depends on its underlying cause:
Your doctor will suggest drinking more water and oral rehydration fluids. If dehydration is caused by vomiting, diarrhea or any other condition, you will need specific treatment for these causes.
The treatment measures for diabetes-related polydipsia include lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and healthy dietary changes (choose food that is high in fiber, low in fat and calories). The doctor may also prescribe oral diabetic medications (such as Metformin) and insulin therapy for some individuals.
Treatment measures for managing diabetes insipidus include dietary changes (reduce salt or proteins) and hormone therapy (desmopressin).
Psychogenic polydipsia can be managed by counseling, medications (acetazolamide), and controlling your fluid intake.
Following a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing polydipsia. Staying physically active and following a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber will contribute to your overall wellness and help in preventing chronic conditions such as diabetes that can cause polydipsia.
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