Why am I thirsty?

Do you often feel thirsty even when you have not eaten too salty food? Is that bad for your health, is it due to your kidneys (kidney failure)? What is the diagnosis? To answer that question, it is good to know why you get thirsty, what your medication is (are you using diuretics), whether you have to urinate a lot and when the feeling of thirst arises. The signal that your mouth is dry is also the signal to your brain that you need to drink to prevent dehydration. Thirst does not necessarily indicate certain diseases, but it is a known symptom of diabetes, especially if it occurs in combination with frequent urination.

When are you thirsty?

Thirst is a normal phenomenon. Anyone who exercises will also get thirsty at some point because they perspire and must ensure that the fluid balance in the body remains at a sufficiently high level. When the weather is warm, we will need moisture and water more than when the weather is cold. Some people have the habit of drinking a lot without any physical condition or reason. For them, drinking a lot (and I don’t mean alcohol) is a habit. On the other hand, there is also a large group of people who systematically drink too little water, juice, some broth, coffee or tea. They do not need it, they do not notice it or they are afraid, for example, that they will have to urinate a lot. We often see a reduced thirst signal in the elderly. Especially if they are over seventy years old, use diuretics, develop diarrhea or come down with the flu.

Prevent dehydration of the body

Taking too much fluid is not without danger, but if you do not respond to your feeling of thirst, you also run the risk of dehydration. You will not become dehydrated overnight, but this can happen quickly, especially in the elderly. Dehydration is accompanied by less perspiration, which cools the body less. Your body does this to retain as much fluid as possible. At the same time, your kidneys will excrete less urine. You go to the toilet less often. Even though these are the first signs of dehydration, many do not realize it and are at risk. Your body has entered an alarm phase where the blood withdraws more than normal fluid from your cells in order to maintain your bloodstream and blood pressure with this fluid. But in the meantime your cells are drying out with all the dangers that entails, including those of your brain. The dehydration first becomes visible on your skin. If you pull up the skin of your hand a little, the skin will stay that way and will not fall back enough. If no measures are taken, your vital organs and brain will be affected. This form of dehydration must therefore be prevented. It can be recognized and the signals must be picked up quickly. If the person concerned no longer notices it (old age, dementia, fainting), someone else must intervene. Sometimes admission to hospital is necessary and an IV will be administered.

Fluid balance and your kidneys

Your body’s fluid balance is essential for proper functioning. We have discussed that feeling thirsty is in itself a good signal because you will normally take action and take in extra fluids. This should not be exaggerated because too much water can also lead to water intoxication. But a lack of fluid can also occur during your sleep if you have consumed a lot of alcohol beforehand. Your body will break down alcohol at an increased rate during your sleep, which leads to fluid loss during your sleep. When you get up the next morning, you will notice this deficiency in the hangover you get and the huge headache. A fluid deficiency can also occur because you use a lot of diuretics. You take the pills a few hours before you go to sleep and go to the toilet before you go to sleep. During your sleep, your fluid balance is no longer replenished and this can lead to unsatisfied thirst.

Diabetes and thirst

Diabetes can lead to extra urination and extra fluid loss if the sugar in your blood is not at the right level. If the glucose level (sugar) in your blood is too high, the body will want to get rid of it, which will lead to fluid loss and thirst. Feeling thirsty and having to urinate frequently are therefore seen as symptoms of diabetes.

Medication use and thirst

Medicines can lead to increased thirst. I already mentioned the diuretics, but it is advisable to always carefully consult the package leaflet of your medicines on this point. Antidepressants are often associated with increased perspiration and fluid loss. The medications for Parkinson’s disease reduce sweating, causing your body to warm up extra. This also applies to medication for incontinence or certain allergies.

Conclusion: what to do if I am very thirsty?

If you are very thirsty and often very thirsty, it is best to discuss this with your doctor. Thirst may be a symptom of an illness that needs to be addressed, but it may also be an indication that the dosage of your medications may need to be adjusted. Dehydration must always be prevented.

read more

  • Is diabetes hereditary?