Thirst is the natural way your body tells you that it needs more water. However, thirst that can’t be relieved by drinking water could be a sign of a more serious health concern.
Dehydration occurs when the body has lost more water than it has taken in and as a result can no longer function as it should. It can occur because of vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive exercise or sweating. While thirst is the main symptom of dehydration, others include headache, dry skin and mouth, dark urine or not needing to urinate as often. Normal treatment includes drinking fluids containing carbohydrates and electrolytes. More serious symptoms may include fever, chest pains, difficulty breathing and even seizures.
Twenty-five per cent of older people will experience dry mouth syndrome, caused when the glands in your mouth produce insufficient saliva. Dry mouth can be brought on by medications, illnesses or lifestyle factors. Other symptoms include having dried or cracked lips, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, ulcers or small sores around the mouth.
When your body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells and struggles to transport oxygen around the body, this is known as anaemia. If your anaemia becomes severe you may feel thirstier and drink more water than normal. Other symptoms of anaemia include feeling tired, dizzy, having a fast heart rate, yellowish skin and sweating.
Polydipsia is the medical term for a thirst that can’t be quenched. If you’re drinking glass after glass of water but still feel thirsty and are making frequent trips to the bathroom, this may be a sign of diabetes. The high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can make you need to urinate much more than normal, in turn triggering thirst.
Diabetes insipidus is a rare problem with your kidneys or your pituitary gland, affecting the production of a hormone that regulates how much water your kidneys hold and release from the body. It causes you to urinate a colourless and odourless liquid three to 20 times more frequently than a person without diabetes insipidus.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.