Thirst is the feeling of needing to drink something. It occurs whenever the body is dehydrated for any reason. Any condition that can result in a loss of body water can lead to thirst or excessive thirst. For this reason, thirst is a characteristic symptoms of certain medical conditions, most notably diabetes mellitus. Thirst may be accompanied by other signs of dehydration such as decreased urine output, reduced sweating and tear production, muscle cramps, weakness, lightheadedness, and nausea. Dehydration and thirst may be minor or severe, depending upon the amount of water lost by the body. Polydipsia is the medical term that refers to increased or excessive thirst.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Causes of Thirst
Burns (First Aid)
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Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged...
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...
Diabetes insipidus is a condition in which the patient has frequent urination. Symptoms of diabetes insipidus include irritable,...
Diarrhea (Causes, Medicine, Remedies, Treatment)
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal...
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Heart failure (congestive) is caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and...
Kidney Failure (Symptoms, Signs, Stages, Causes, and Treatment)
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss,...
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension) Symptoms and Treatments
Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is blood pressure that is so low that it causes symptoms or signs due to the...
Nausea and Vomiting (Causes, Natural Remedies, Diet, Medication)
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms...
Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high...
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes (Similarities and Differences)
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which a person's blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Over 29.1 million...
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which a person's pancreas does not produce enough insulin to meet the needs of the body....
Other Causes of Thirst
- Hot Climate
- Inadequate Intake of Fluids
- Liver Failure
- Psychogenic Polydipsia
- Severe Bleeding
- Spicy or Salty Foods