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Diabetes Thirst: Why You’re So Thirsty & Tips to Help

Published on 
January 25, 2024
August 29, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

Here's what you need to know about polydipsia and excessive thirst.

For Virta member Richard K., excessive thirst caused by type 2 diabetes significantly impacted his quality of life. 

“I thought I was doomed to a life of diabetes and all the physical symptoms that went along with it,” says Richard. “I had sudden and frequent urges to urinate almost every hour. My skin was constantly itching, I was constantly dehydrated and I had severe dry mouth.” 

It’s normal to feel thirsty sometimes throughout the day, particularly if you’ve just finished a workout, had a salty meal, or spent time outdoors in the summer heat. But if you find yourself frequently and intensely thirsty, even after drinking plenty of fluids for several days, it could be a sign of diabetes.

If you experience constant thirst and frequent urination, here’s what you need to know about diabetes thirst. 

What causes polydipsia in diabetes?

Excessive thirst — also known as polydipsia — is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, excess blood sugar (glucose) builds up in the bloodstream. All this extra blood sugar puts the kidneys into overdrive as they filter and absorb excess sugar. When they can’t absorb the sugar fast enough, the sugar goes into the urine, along with fluids from other tissues in your body. This process can lead to dehydration, causing you to feel thirsty and drink more liquids. In turn, all these extra liquids can lead to frequent urination, another sign of type 2 diabetes. 

Is being thirsty at night a sign of diabetes?

Being intensely thirsty at night — or any time of day — can potentially be a sign of diabetes. Excessive thirst can also be caused by certain medications, sleeping in a warm bedroom, pregnancy, dehydration, drinking too much alcohol, eating salty or spicy foods, anemia or other health conditions. This is why it’s crucial to see your doctor if you frequently experience intense thirst. 

Can prediabetes cause thirst?

Prediabetes doesn’t usually cause excessive thirst, though some people may develop other signs like darkened skin or small growths under their arms or on their necks. The best way to know if you have prediabetes is to see your primary care provider for a simple blood test. 

How does a person with diabetes get rid of excessive thirst?

If drinking plenty of fluids for several days doesn’t improve your thirst, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. They can help determine if you have diabetes, if your blood sugar is too high, or another health issue is the culprit. It’s especially crucial to see your provider if you have excessive thirst accompanied by:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive hunger
  • Frequent or excessive urination

You may be able to reduce thirst by avoiding alcohol and caffeine, drinking plenty of water, and eating hydrating foods, like certain fruits, vegetables and soups. 

The Takeaway

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

Are you living with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or unwanted weight?

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