What is thirst?

Thirst is the desire to drink fluids, and it is a normal, everyday feeling. Depending on your activities and diet, you may notice changes in how thirsty you feel during a particular day and on different days. Major changes in your patterns of thirst, however, may be symptoms of a disease or medical condition.

A lack of thirst, especially if it lasts longer than a day, or an abrupt change in your normal pattern of thirst can be a symptom of a number of conditions. A lack of thirst can indicate head injuries, liver disease, specific types of cancer, or stroke.

Excessive thirst, especially when prolonged, or a sudden change in your thirst pattern can also be a symptom of a number of conditions. Excessive thirst can signal possible bleeding, diabetes, physical exhaustion, dehydration, or a mental disorder. Some medications can lead to excessive thirst.

The outcome and complications associated with abnormal thirst depend entirely on the underlying cause. It is usually appropriate to drink fluids when you are thirsty and not to drink fluids when you are not thirsty. If you suspect that your thirst patterns are not normal, or if you notice a sudden change in your thirst, it is important to contact a physician to determine the cause of these symptoms.

Seek prompt medical care if you notice excessive thirst, an absence of thirst, or a sudden change in your thirst patterns lasting more than a couple of days.

If abnormalities in your thirst are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with thirst?

An absence or excess of thirst may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with an absence of thirst

An absence of thirst may accompany other symptoms including:


What causes thirst?

Your body maintains a certain level of fluids, and your level of thirst is your body’s way of telling you it needs more or less fluid. Thirst can increase normally if you lose a lot of fluid, such as during a workout, and can decrease normally if you have enough fluid, such as after drinking a lot of water.

An absence of thirst or excessive thirst can be caused by a number of cond... Read more about thirstcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Metabolic System