What is Polydipsia?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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Polydipsia is a symptom of different conditions, but is not in itself a disease. The name means excessive thirst, and with this condition people tend to drink way too much liquid, usually water. With this condition, people may never feel sated by the amount of water they drink and end up consuming much more water than they should, which can lead to other conditions like imbalance of saline in the body.

Most often, people who have polydipsia are showing early signs of suffering from diabetes. This is true in animals too. Dogs and cats that are diabetic may drink far too much and always seem thirsty. If you already have diabetes and you begin to encounter symptoms, you should bring this to the attention of your doctor. It may mean that you’re not taking your medications regularly or you need other or stronger medications to treat your diabetes.

Another subset of people who may suffer from polydipsia includes those who regularly drink tons of caffeinated beverages. Since caffeine is a diuretic, it can cause too much urination, and caffeinated drinks won’t satisfy thirst. People may find themselves needing to drink more or feeling thirsty all the time. It’s a good idea to look at the things you drink or eat that might contain caffeine and cut down on these them.


People with certain mental health conditions particularly schizophrenia can have polydipsia as a symptom too. There are also some people with developmental disabilities who suffer from this. One difficulty with this condition in the mentally ill is management of it, since those with reduced capacity may not discriminate between safe and unsafe fluid sources and they lack impulse control. Inability to judge water intake may lead to serious side effects.

When the body is flooded with water, saline levels fall and people can develop a condition called hyponatremia or water intoxication. People may seem drunk or disoriented, and without treatment to restore appropriate saline levels, swelling of tissues can cause a coma. If water intoxication is treated early, most people recover completely. However if they suffer from chronic polydipsia and are in a reduced capacity state, numerous cases of developing water intoxication can lead to significant damage of vital organs.

If you feel thirsty all the time and drinking a moderate amount of water doesn’t seem to satisfy thirst, you should see your doctor. Polydipsia can be a good symptom in a way because it can help indicate that there are health problems that require treatment. As previously stated, the most common cause is diabetes, and early medical intervention may be the best way to avoid diabetes complications.


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