What Is Polydipsia?

Polydipsia is a scientific term used in the medical field to refer to a state of extreme persistent thirst. Apart from human beings, this condition has also been observed in birds. In some instances, it initially usually occurs as an early symptom of diabetes.

Polydipsia isusually caused by a lifestyle that influences your body fluids capacity negatively. It’s more of an alarm than it is a disease/disorder because it’s never independent of underlying health issues.



Polydipsia is centered on levels of hydration on the body and how the body interprets it in the process of maintaining a normal internal environment (homeostasis)

It’s caused by:

People who do not drink enough water are susceptible to polydipsia. Low levels of hydration caused by low water intake may trigger the condition.

A lot of perspiration (sweating) leads to Polydipsia if there is not enough water intake to replace the water loss. Too much drinking of certain beverages like tea and coffee causes dehydration and the body has to replace the water lost. Sometimes the feelings of dehydration can be felt whether the affected person has been sweating and urinating many times or not.

Polyuria: This is a situation usually triggered by diabetes whereby the affected person passes more urine than normal leading to dehydration of body hence polydipsia.

High increase in blood sugar levels leads to feelings of thirstiness despite how much the affected person may try to quench his thirst. This is commonly an early symptom of diabetes.

Foods with a lot of salt cause the body to absorb more water to balance the internal concentration of fluids leading to feelings of dehydration. This can lead to Polydipsia.

Psychological factors like anxiety/depression usually caused by boredom may lead to Polydipsia.

Zinc deficiency causes high occurrences and severity of diarrhea causing dehydration therefore leading to polydipsia.

When the pH level in normal plasma changes, it can cause polydipsia. This differences of upsets the body’s degree of acidity thus causing a level of dehydration that triggers a lot of thirst.

Second and third degree burns cause dehydration because a lot of fluid is lost. An imbalance between the fluids and the electrolyte in the body causes thirst because the body is trying to maintain osmolality (the body’s balance between water and electrolyte) of the plasma.

Pregnancy can cause low osmolality too which is usually affected by other factors in the body brought about by the pregnancy leading to the individual suffering from polydipsia. Anti-diuretic Hormone and human chorionic gonadotropin (a hormone that stimulates growth and activities of the reproductive system) stimulate this process.

Situations that cause dehydration especially in extreme cases may lead to Polydipsia in general. This may be factors caused by other diseases. Examples include: vomiting, diarrhea, medical prescriptions like corticosteroids/diuretics.

Types of Polydipsia

Reasons that lead to polydipsia are classified into two. This classification influences how a polydipsia is defined. These reasons are psychological and physical. Polydipsia caused by psychological factors is called psychogenic polydipsia. It is triggered by psychological factors/mental issues. It is also known as primary polydipsia.

Polydipsia caused by physical factors exists in two forms: drug induced polydipsia and compensatory polydipsia.

Drug induced

It is caused by medications such as diuretics/corticosteroids. These drugs influence increase production of urine which sometimes leads to polydipsia.


It is caused by low levels of anti-diuretic hormone which trigger a lot of urination causing feelings of extreme thirst.


A person suffering from polydipsia will occasionally feel extremely thirsty. This may still persist even after drinking copious amounts of water.

Increased number of times the affected person has to urinate. This usually amounts to not less than five liters of urine a day.

Other symptoms of polydipsia are caused by diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is a common cause of polydipsia by triggering polyuria which cause the following symptoms

  • Unusual feelings of hunger
  • Poor eyesight (not able to see clearly/burry
  • Constant tiredness
  • Sores taking longer than normal to heal and occur more often

Diabetes Insipdus causes hormonal changes in the body (which influence how the kidney functions) causing increased formation of urine resulting to polydipsia.


The concentration of serum is tested in the blood urea, sodium, red blood cells and nitrogen (blood serum test). If concentration is established then polydipsia is diagnosed because this means the individual too much water to the point of causing polydipsia.


Find out about the psychological state of the individual that lead to polydipsia (psychogenic).

What nature of stress and anxieties and beliefs does your patient struggle with? If the state of patients psychiatric condition is properly addressed it will help the patient start to recover soon.

The patients’ water intake habits must be closely monitored by the medical staff. In some instances the patient might get creative ways of hiding water in strategic places and secretly continue to indulge his constant drinking behaviour without the knowledge of the doctor.

Schizophrenia may affect patients and in these situations, these patients suffering from psychogenic polydipsia changing from atypical to typical antipsychotics has been proven to get better.

The amount of fluids taken by patients has to be reduced to at least 2 to 3 liters a day. A system should be put in place to encourage patients to embrace habits that will help them get better. Positive reinforcement should be encouraged.

The patients’ compliance to the instructions towards healing must constantly be checked. The patient normal range of ability to retain water is usually highest in the afternoon so the time of carrying out these checkups must be at least two times a day. These helps in for accurate screening of hypnotremia (swelling of cells because the body’s level of sodium is very low).

Desmopressin is used to treat other types of polydipsia except for psychogenic polydipsia. It helps in reducing the production of urine. If detected early, polydipsia can easily be treated and hence avoiding damages that cannot be undone.

Reference List

  1. Polydipsia- Psychogenic, causes, Diagnosis, treatment. http://mddk.com/polydipsia
  2. Polydipsia –Insatiable thirst Managing polydipsia Current psychiatry http://www.mdedge.com/currentosychiatry/article/63646/insatiable-thirst-managing-polydipsia
  3. Polydipsia Causes, Symptoms, and treatment – http://www.healthine.com/health/diabetes/polydipsia
  4. Polydipsia – Excessive thirst Causes and Symptoms – http://www.diabetes.co.uk/symptoms/polydipsia.html
  5. Polydipsia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/polydipsia

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