What Are the Causes of Excessive Thirst?


Excessive thirst, also known as polydipsia, is a relatively common medical condition that can be brought on by several different factors. These include changes in diet and exercise, mental illness, diabetes, and various other chronic diseases.

Feeling thirsty.
Feeling thirsty. (Image: Olesia Bilkei/iStock/Getty Images)

Common Causes

Fortunately, the most common causes of excessive thirst are short-term and easily treated. These include a salty or spicy meal, increased exercise, certain prescription medications, and dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting or sweat.

Spicy food may cause excessive thirst.
Spicy food may cause excessive thirst. (Image: baifumei/iStock/Getty Images)


Increased thirst is also frequently caused by unhealthy blood sugar levels and may be an early warning sign of diabetes. For this reason, excessive thirst may be a cause for concern if it cannot be explained by the more common causes listed above.

Diabetes may cause thirst.
Diabetes may cause thirst. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Chronic Illness

Thirst can also be a symptom of various diseases of the heart, liver and kidneys.

Chronic illness may cause thirst.
Chronic illness may cause thirst. (Image: AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images)

Mental Illness

Excessive thirst has been noted among patients with various types of mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia. In this case, the thirst can be brought on by both the mental illness itself and the medication used to treat it.

Mental illness may cause thirst.
Mental illness may cause thirst. (Image: Alain LAUGA/iStock/Getty Images)


Typically, it is wise to heed the body’s warning signs and increase fluid intake. In the case of diabetes, thirst can often be cured by treating the low blood sugar levels that cause it. When the condition is brought on by mental illness or other chronic diseases, the problem is most easily solved by treating its underlying cause.

Drink more liquids.
Drink more liquids. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

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