There’s a popular beer commercial in which a man who is often surrounded by beautiful women or enjoying life’s adventures tells viewers—his “friends”—to “stay thirsty.” It’s meant to suggest that drinking the product will keep your life interesting. However, for many people, staying thirsty is not about fun and games.
If you’re constantly thirsty, then you know how frustrating it can be. Often, feeling parched is more than annoying; it may indicate underlying physical and mental conditions. Here’s a look at eight things that might be causing your excessive thirst.
It’s estimated that about 7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes, often because there are symptoms that go unnoticed. Among them is excessive thirst, which typically develops when your body works harder than usual to filter and absorb the extra sugar being created. Because frequent urination—which can be dehydrating—is a part of this process, you’re more likely to become thirstier than normal.
When you’re seriously depleted of the water your body needs, it can lead to dehydration. In this case, your throat may feel dry, causing you to swallow a great deal and crave fluids. You may also experience fatigue, a foggy memory, dizziness or loss of skin elasticity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the reasons for dehydration vary immensely. You may not be drinking enough water throughout the day, or you might not replenish your body sufficiently after sweating a lot (i.e. following gym workouts or strenuous lifting). Bouts of diarrhea, fever, and living in a particularly hot and humid climate are other factors that can lead to dehydration and create excessive thirst.
3. Changes to your diet
If you’re adding more salt or spices to your meals, you may end up feeling thirstier than normal. When you eat saltier foods, your body works hard to make up for the changes it’s going through. With extra salt in your body, more fluid than usual is pulled out of your cells. This ultimately triggers the part of your brain that recognizes thirst to kick in. Be aware that eating more salt isn’t necessarily about sprinkling it on certain foods; ingesting foods that already have high amounts of sodium and spices (such as cured meats and heavily processed items) can make you thirsty.
It’s no secret that both prescribed and common over-the-counter medications come with a rundown of side effects, with changes in thirst sometimes among them. For example, pain relievers, water pills, and drugs containing hormones can all make you feel thirstier than usual. Certain herbal supplements may do the same. As with any changes you notice while taking existing or new medications, be sure to talk to your doctor.
5. Mouth breathing
If you tend to go about your day breathing through your mouth, whether sitting at your desk or while running on the treadmill, it’s not uncommon for you to become thirsty. Similarly, if you snore a lot, you may awaken to a parched throat. While snoring or occasionally opening your mouth while exercising is somewhat typical, doing so routinely could be indicative of an underlying health problem—such as sleep apnea in the case of excessive snoring.
As you age, you may notice that your thirst is harder to quench. This is because you’re starting to lose your sense of thirst to an extent. Additionally, your kidneys aren’t able to store water in your body as they once could when you were younger. While a sense of thirst doesn’t completely diminish as you age, it’s still worth noting that your body is undergoing common changes associated with getting older.
7. Sjögren’s syndrome
About four million Americans have something called Sjögren’s syndrome, which is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a person’s white blood cells to attack the glands that produce moisture. A dry mouth is very common, as are dry eyes, joint pain, and fatigue. A medical expert can better assess whether you may have this condition, although general and professional awareness about Sjögren’s is limited.
8. Psychogenic polydipsia
You may have read about people who consume extremely large quantities of water to the point of potentially harming their body. In fact, psychogenic polydipsia is a mental condition in which a person has uncontrollable urges to drink a lot of water—sometimes to the tune of more than 2.5 gallons daily. Such insatiable thirst is typically linked to this particular mental health problem, which tends to exist along with other conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder.
As you can see, reasons for excessive thirst vary. You may simply think you can get by only with a few cups of coffee. Alternatively, perhaps you’re eating spicier foods, or you maybe you aren’t re-hydrating after exercising. Then again, you could have a more serious condition such as diabetes or a mental health issue. As in all instances in which you have health concerns, be sure to address them with a medical professional.