Drinking water seems to be a simple step in our daily self-care routines, but sometimes it is difficult to keep track of it. While some are struggling to drink sufficient water, others are over-indulging. Doctors define excessive thirst as drinking more than three liters a day. It can be tricky to determine the cause of excessive thirst, so we have summarized some potential thirst causes that you may not have considered.
Can’t let go of your thirst? Maybe you’re not thirsty at all, but suffer from a dry mouth! Your body produces saliva on an ongoing basis to help keep your mouth moist and clean and help swallow and digest food. Not having enough salivia will make your mouth feel sticky and dry. Some medicine is known to cause dry mouth as a side-effect, or aging may be a factor as well. Smokers are more likely to get a dry mouth, and nervousness or stress can also lead to it.
Salt Your body fluids, such as your blood and the fluid between your cells, must maintain an accurate water and salt balance. This is what we call osmolarity. Throughout your body there are special detectors telling your brain the osmolarity of your body fluids. If you have too much salt in your blood and not enough water, the receptors will notice the change and tell your brain you need a drink. Even a slight change of 2-3 percent in your blood’s osmolarity can make you feel thirsty. Generally speaking, the more salt you eat, the more salt your gut absorbs, the more water you get into your blood, the more water you need to eat to balance it out, and the more your body tells you to drink more, and you will feel thirsty and thirsty.
There are several causes of dehydration, but the general rule of thumb is to drink as much water as you lose every day. Do not compare how much you drink with others, compare it with how much you lose! If you’re very active or in a hot climate or workspace, you’re going to lose more water every day than others, so you’re going to have to drink more. If you have a hangover or recover from stomach flu or diarrhea, you will also have to drink more water to replace the lost fluids.
Thirst together with increased urination is a core symptom of diabetes. But what makes you thirsty with diabetes?
Diabetes is caused either by insulin shortages (type 1) or by a reduced insulin effect on your cells (type 2). Insulin allows your cell to absorb sugar (glucose) from your blood that can be used in multiple processes, including releasing energy and biosynthesizing other molecules that are essential for basic cell functions. Your blood glucose levels will continuously raise when your cells are not as able to absorb glucose from your blood.
The role of your kidneys are to ensure that when blood is filtered through, you do not lose any essential glucose in your urine, reabsorbing glucose. If your blood glucose levels get too high, however, your kidneys get overloaded and you can’t rescue all the glucose. All the excess glucose found in your urine will create an osmotic gradient which basically means that your urine’s concentration is higher than your overall body fluids. To balance your urine’s high glucose concentration, water is drawn from your body tissues into the urine, diluting the glucose. (Find out more about osmosis in your body in our article on sugar and dehydration.) The movement of water into your urine only produces more urine, drains water from your body and makes you thirsty.
Just in front of your voice box on the front of your neck sits a tiny gland called the thyroid gland. Even though most people are even aware of this tiny organ, for day-to-day body function, your thyroid is incredibly important. Excessive thirst could be a sign of being overactive in your thyroid.
The thyroid takes advice from the brain on how much work needs to be done by the cells in your body and then produces and releases the right hormones to pass this message on to your other cells. In some cases though, the thyroid can become overactive and release an immoderate amount of hormone or sometimes it can be not active enough by releasing too little hormone.
If the thyroid gland releases more hormone than needed, it will accelerate all of your body processes. This is called hyperthyroidism, and may be due to a wide range of conditions underlying it. Because your body works harder, more water will be needed to support biological processes, and you may feel more thirsty than usual. If you’re worried about your thyroid or think you may have some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and are worried, please consult your doctor.