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Polydipsia: Definition, Causes & Symptoms

Polydipsia: Definition, Causes & Symptoms
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  • 0:00 What is Polydipsia?
  • 0:45 Causes of Polydipsia
  • 1:23 Symptoms of Polydipsia
  • 1:38 Treatment Options
  • 2:37 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Polydipsia is another word for excessive thirst. Read on to find out what causes this extreme thirst, what the other symptoms may be, and how to treat it (besides drinking lots of water).

What is Polydipsia?

If you've ever had a hard workout session or spent all day in the sun, you know what it's like to feel really, really thirsty. But imagine feeling that way all the time. Polydipsia is excessive thirst that causes a person to drink extreme amounts of water. It is usually a side effect of another condition such as diabetes. In fact, it is often one of the first symptoms a patient with diabetes will experience, usually before they have even been diagnosed.

In addition to thirst, those suffering from polydipsia may also have dry mouth or a foul taste in their mouth. Excessive thirst even when you are (or should be) properly hydrated is cause for concern and should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Causes of Polydipsia

In addition to diabetes (or conditions where a person has high blood sugar levels), other conditions cause polydipsia as well. Any activity or symptom that causes a loss of fluids or dehydration in the body can result in temporary polydipsia. This could include illness, diarrhea, vomiting, blood loss, excessive sweating, or side effects from medications. Some cases of polydipsia are caused by psychiatric disorders where the patient mysteriously feels the need to drink more water as if he or she is dehydrated, even if that isn't the case and they have no other physical medical conditions that would explain the thirst.

Symptoms of Polydipsia

There are two main symptoms of polydipsia. The first is having an unquenchable thirst that persists no matter how much water you drink. The second is excessive urination -- passing more than 5 liters in a 24-hour period.

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