Excessive thirst, called polydipsia, and diabetes can be connected in patients with poorly controlled or undiagnosed diabetic conditions, where metabolic imbalances cause the patient to become extremely thirsty. In these patients, the kidneys produce excessive amounts of urine in an attempt to flush blood sugar. This depletes the body of water, triggering feelings of dehydration and intense thirst. The medical term for frequent urination is polyuria; these symptoms are usually seem together.
In patients who haven’t been diagnosed, high blood sugar can develop because they aren’t aware they are ill. Over time, the levels build up so high that the kidneys begin to function at higher than normal levels in an attempt to get rid of the excess glucose. They produce large quantities of dilute urine with a high sugar content. The more the patient urinates, the more the patient needs to drink to keep the kidneys functioning. People with polydipsia and diabetes may drink large amounts of water daily, and can experience extreme thirst when they haven’t had something to drink within several hours.
Diagnosed patients who are having trouble controlling their diabetes can also develop frequent thirst. In this case, the connection between polydipsia and diabetes is a warning sign that these patients need to control the condition more effectively to prevent complications. Blood sugar testing can also reveal high blood sugar. It may be necessary to make some dietary adjustments, change medications, or develop a new treatment plan if the patient is adhering to a plan and the diabetes is still out of control.
Some patients may drink processed juices and other sweetened beverages when they experience polydipsia and diabetes. This can make the problem worse, because it will add to the strain on the kidneys with more dietary sugars. Water is a good choice for managing polydipsia and diabetes, and some patients may also find sucking on ice chips or eating chilled fruit refreshing while they work to get their blood sugar under control.
The connection between polydipsia and diabetes doesn’t mean that everyone who is thirsty has diabetes. Thirst can also be associated with some medications and certain other medical conditions, as well as simple dehydration caused by working or exercising in hot sun without drinking adequate water. People who are drinking a lot of water and urinating frequently without an obvious cause like a known medical condition may want to seek an evaluation from a doctor to determine the next step.