Am I always feeling thirsty? Does no amount of water seem enough to me? Am I spending a lot of time in the bathroom? Is my mouth always dry? If you answered all the questions with a YES, then you might be suffering from polydipsia. People also wonder if polydipsia is a symptom of diabetes.
Polydipsia is a condition where the body feels excessive thirst and no amount of water is sufficient to quench the thirst. Since you always feel the need to drink, it causes you to urinate more than usual. After that, your body feels to replace the urination with fluids, and thus the cycle continues.
Generally, anyone becomes thirsty after an arduous workout or coming back from a hot sunny afternoon, or on a high-salt diet. This type of thirst does not stay for long and can be quenched with a normal amount of fluids. However, in polydipsia, the body feels thirsty all the time, and depending on the cause, it can last for days, weeks, or sometimes for more extended periods.
Polydipsia vs Polyuria vs Polyphagia
Polydipsia, in most cases, is followed by polyuria, a condition where the body feels the need to urinate frequently. In polyuria, a person urinates at least 3 liters or more in less than 24 hours. Since a person suffering from polydipsia always has the urge to drink more fluids, he/she would feel like urinating more.
Polydipsia and polyuria, along with polyphagia, are the three big signs of diabetes mellitus. Polyphagia is the condition of increased appetite. Although polydipsia and polyuria come as a pair, polyphagia is difficult to identify. Therefore, if someone sees all the three signs together, it is advisable to check your blood sugar levels with a glucometer.
Causes of Polydipsia
Polydipsia is mainly caused due to:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Loss of excess body fluids
- Diabetes insipidus
- Dry mouth
The most associated cause of polydipsia is loss of excess body fluids or dehydration. When you do a strenuous workout, or eat salty foods, or even during summers, the body loses a lot of fluids. If you alternate your fluids with drinks such as black tea or coffee, the body is not able to replace the fluids in the body and therefore feels thirsty. Alternatively, if you don’t take enough fluids, the body will start showing symptoms of excessive thirst.
Other common reasons for polydipsia are diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus. Unlike diabetes mellitus in which the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, diabetes insipidus is a condition where the kidneys are not able to store enough water.
Polydipsia in Diabetes
As mentioned above, polydipsia in diabetes is a common phenomenon. When the sugar level in the bloodstream becomes excessively concentrated, the kidney is unable to pull out the glucose from water. In typical cases, most of the glucose and water are taken out of the urine and sent back into the body. As the body is no longer able to reuptake the glucose, the osmotic pressure builds up. The osmotic pressure is what builds between liquids with solutes of high concentration and low concentration. Over time, this pressure gets so high that the body is not able to absorb the water back to the bloodstream and is thrown out with urine.
Read More: Diabetes Insipidus vs Mellitus: Causes and Treatment
Polydipsia might seem like a harmless condition. However, in diabetes, if not treated, it can lead to headaches, dizziness, and even fainting. Moreover, dehydration, along with diabetes, can cause diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition causing naturally occurring acids to build up in the body. This can lead to organ failure, coma, or in worst cases, death.
Another point to be noted is that polydipsia in diabetes can also lead to dehydration. In problematic cases, excessive dehydration prevents the body from producing less urine, thus reducing the expulsion of the extra glucose. Moreover, studies have proven that in times of dehydration, the body produces an immoderate amount of adrenaline and other hormones that are also known to be insulin blockers. This can create a spike in your sugar levels, causing a blockage in diabetes management.
How to treat Polydipsia?
Polydipsia in diabetes can be treated if the blood sugar levels come in the normal range. This can be done with the help of a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it is advisable to check your sugar level regularly with a glucometer. In the case of psychogenic polydipsia, one can limit the amount of fluids taken, or take proper medication.
In most cases, treatment of polydipsia is not difficult and is cured easily. Therefore, it is best to treat the condition in the early stages to avoid any disruption in your daily activities.