Thirst is a feeling we’re all familiar with: You start to experience dry mouth, your throat gets scratchy, and you have a sudden urge to drink something as soon as possible. You wonder, “Why am I always thirsty?”
Excessive thirst is normal in these conditions or when you eat spicy foods or salty foods. However, excessive thirst can also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition or a hydration disorder such as dehydration or hyponatremia. Chronic thirst or thirst that isn’t quenched even after rehydrating is usually the sign of a medical condition rather than a response to foods or your environment.
If you’ve ever wondered “Why am I always thirsty?”, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll show you the common causes of excessive thirst, including dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. You’ll learn more about how hydration works and how an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS can treat and prevent dehydration that causes excessive thirst.
How Thirst Works
While we might be familiar with the feeling of thirst, it’s more than just an intuitive reaction. Under the surface, your body carries out biological processes to help control hydration and signal your brain when there’s a problem.
Here’s how thirst works. When you don’t get enough water or electrolytes, your natural cellular composition begins to change. (Reminder: DripDrop ORS is an easy way to increase your water intake and electrolytes.)
Your blood fluid volume — essentially the amount of fluid and electrolytes present in blood — begins to drop, causing low blood pressure. You may also start to experience muscle cramps or fatigue as your body’s fluid supply that’s used to lubricate joints and transport nutrients become depleted.
If you’re not getting enough water, the ratio of electrolytes in your cells becomes more concentrated. The concentration of electrolytes in relation to the amount of fluid is known as osmolality. Your body’s cellular osmolality must remain in a narrow range in order to perform normal processes. Even a 1 percent change in osmolality can trigger the thirst mechanism.
As your body recognizes an imbalance, it sends signals to neurons in a part of your brain known as the lamina terminalis. These neurons can detect key indicators of thirst including abnormal sodium levels, liquid deficiencies, and other contributors.
The neurons then send messages to your mouth, kidneys, and circulatory system to rectify the problem. These messages include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, and decreased urination — another way your body works to preserve fluids when it’s running low. Your brain may also signal the heart to adjust blood pressure, heart rate, and kidney function to restore hydration.
Why Am I Always Thirsty?
Now that you understand how thirst works, we can move on to answering the question of “Why am I always thirsty?” There are several factors that may cause excessive thirst. In most cases, the cause of thirst is directly correlated with either not getting enough fluids or suffering from osmolality changes due to electrolyte imbalances. Here are the main reasons you may experience excessive thirst.
Dehydration is a condition where your body doesn’t get enough water and electrolytes. It’s mainly caused by excessive sweating, illnesses that result in diarrhea and vomiting, and not getting enough fluids.
When you sweat, your body secretes electrolytes and water to the top layer of your skin. There, it evaporates and produces a cooling effect that helps to regulate your body temperature. If you’re sweating a lot and not drinking enough water and electrolytes, you can develop dehydration which features symptoms including extreme thirst, dry mouth, and headache.
When you have diarrhea or are vomiting, your body rapidly loses electrolytes and fluids. It can also be hard to keep fluids down, making it even more difficult to replenish these essential minerals and fluids, further compounding dehydration.
In severe cases of dehydration, your organs may begin to shut down or you may suffer long-term side effects. That’s why diarrhoeal diseases like cholera and dysentery can be fatal. It’s also why the WHO recommends treating these ailments using oral rehydration solutions like DripDrop ORS.
When you’re dehydrated, your body triggers your thirst mechanism to encourage the replenishment of fluids and electrolytes. However, changes in your electrolyte concentration can also lead to feelings of thirst.
Electrolyte imbalances can lead to hydration conditions such as hyponatremia or hypernatremia — when your body has too much or too little sodium. Excessive thirst is often a symptom of these conditions. To get a precise ratio of electrolytes, use an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop.
While many health blogs argue that sodium is bad for us, sodium is an essential mineral that is key to overall well-being and hydration in particular. Our bodies need precise amounts of sodium to function properly. In fact, sodium helps to regulate fluid levels in your body, prevents muscle cramps, and sends signals to the brain — including by triggering the thirst mechanism.
Sodium supports water retention and when paired with glucose in the sodium-glucose cotransport system, it also increases your body’s ability to absorb electrolytes. In this transport system, glucose makes it easier for water, sodium, and electrolytes to move from the small intestine into the bloodstream. From there, sodium works to improve fluid levels, helping to fend off dehydration and electrolyte imbalances fast.
While sodium in particular is important when it comes to hydration and why you may be feeling thirsty, you can also suffer from other electrolyte deficiencies. These include potassium problems such as hyperkalemia and hypokalemia and calcium deficiencies including hypercalcemia and hypokalemia, which can trigger thirst.
Health problems such as type 2 diabetes, diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus, and hormone deficiencies — particularly when it comes to the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin — can all lead to excessive thirst. Here are a few of the most common health problems that may lead to excessive thirst.
Excessive thirst, also known as polydipsia, is one of the first signs of diabetes. Other common symptoms include blurred vision, unexplained weight loss, and injuries that take longer than normal to heal. Diabetes is often the result of high blood sugar levels — also commonly referred to as blood glucose levels or hyperglycemia. These health conditions are often characterized by feelings of dry mouth and thirst that won’t go away, even after drinking plenty of fluids.
If you have diabetes, you aren’t able to produce the right amount of insulin, leading to a build-up of excess glucose. Glucose is a key component of urine that signals the kidneys to bulk up water, causing increased urination. Your body responds by triggering the thirst mechanism in order to replenish water lost through waste production. At the same time, this increases your risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Diabetes insipidus is not a form of diabetes. It’s actually a kidney disease that causes significant imbalances in body fluid. This condition is characterized by excessive production of urine and is correlated with low levels of vasopressin, a hormone that plays a key role in water retention. People with this condition lose significant amounts of fluid through increased urination and often experience excessive thirst, the body’s way of replacing lost fluid and electrolytes.
Anemia and other conditions such as burn injuries that cause a significant loss of blood can also lead to excessive thirst. Anemia is a medical condition where your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include excessive or persistent thirst, weakness, and extreme fatigue. With fewer red blood cells than normal, your body detects a problem in blood and fluid volume, triggering thirst in an effort to replace fluids.
In cases of severe burn injuries, blood vessels may be damaged, allowing fluids to leak into surrounding tissues. In addition, fluids and electrolytes seep out of burn areas since the skin — which acts as a natural barrier to fluid loss — is no longer present. This dramatically increases the risk of dehydration and your body may respond by triggering excessive thirst.
How To Manage Thirst
To avoid excessive thirst caused by medical conditions or dehydration, it’s important to focus on hydrating. Rather than chugging drinking water when you’re thirsty, try to take small sips of an electrolyte-rich beverage like DripDrop ORS throughout the day. Doctor-developed DripDrop ORS contains a precise ratio of electrolytes including sodium and potassium to help fend off dehydration.
Plus it tastes better than traditional oral rehydration solutions which were unpalatable — especially for children — due to the salty taste. The patented formula provides medically relevant electrolyte levels, improving on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) standards because of its delicious taste. The result is a medically viable ORS that also tastes great.
Add a few packets to your work bag so you always have a tasty rehydration solution on hand. You can also carry a water bottle with you to remember to drink fluids throughout the day. Make sure to increase your fluid intake while working in hot conditions in a factory, engaging in physical activity outdoors, or if you’re sweating more than usual. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids if you’re sick and are vomiting or have diarrhea.
You may also feel excessive thirst when you wake up. That’s because sleep — especially if you breathe through your mouth, snore, or sleep in a hot environment — can cause mild dehydration. To avoid waking up thirsty, try to drink fluids an hour or two before you go to bed. Better yet, start the morning by drinking DripDrop ORS to help replenish any fluids and electrolytes you lost while sleeping.
Manage Thirst Caused by Dehydration With DripDrop ORS
If you wonder “why am I always thirsty” and find dehydration is the culprit, reach for DripDrop ORS — a proven alternative for treating mild to moderate dehydration. It's powerful enough to use in extreme circumstances but safe enough for everyday use.
When you're in a state of dehydration and suffering from thirst, water alone is not enough. Your body needs the perfect balance of sodium and glucose to help absorption. With the precisely balanced ratio, you can replenish vital electrolytes and fluids to relieve dehydration quickly. Plus, DripDrop ORS supplies vitamins like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, which are essential to support your overall health.For cases of mild to moderate dehydration, DripDrop ORS is a fast, effective, and great tasting remedy. With convenient packaging that allows you to have DripDrop ORS when you need it, where you need it. Get started with a trial or try our most popular multi-flavor pouch for dehydration relief fast.