Ask the Expert: What is Excessive Thirst and What Does it Mean?

Ask the Expert: What is Excessive Thirst and What Does it Mean?

You might not be commuting to work every day, but you’re trying to stick with a good routine.

You’re eating healthy foods, keeping track of your water intake, and self-isolating with a brisk walk or run around the neighborhood. You’re even tracking every sip; you appear to be on target. 

So as you sit down to get back to business, what’s with the dry mouth and why do you still feel thirsty? 

Young woman sitting laptop work couch

Dr Joshua Thurman: “The body loses both electrolytes and water in sweat, but it is mostly water. As a result, when you sweat a lot you can lose the water that you need. Because the body has lost water, the fluids can become slightly more concentrated. This is sensed by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which stimulates you to feel thirsty.”

If you start feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. But it’s a simple fix. 

“When the body has lost water the only way to replace it is by drinking. Thus, the sense of thirst plays a critical role in keeping you hydrated and maintaining the proper body chemistry.” 

So drink more and you’ll see an immediate impact. You’ll not only feel refreshed but more alert mentally.

What is Excessive Thirst and What Does it Mean?

But there may be a more serious side to that excessive thirst. Millions of people worldwide are suffering from diabetes that has not been detected.  People with Type 2 Diabetes may have the disease for years before their symptoms are diagnosed. 

So if you are constantly thirsty combined with other symptoms, including feeling tired, don’t ignore what your body is telling you; make an appointment with your doctor. There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but through changes to your diet and with weight loss, you could control your sugar levels without medication. 

If you’re not suffering from diabetes and you’re excessively thirsty because you’re just not drinking enough, you know what to do.  Up the water intake. Of course, you might need to head to the bathroom a little more often. 

man washing hands sink

And don't forget to wash your hands!


Dr. Joshua Thurman, MD is a board-certified nephrologist and Professor of Medicine specializing in renal medical diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He has been in practice for more than 22 years.

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