We all know that in addition to the classical symptoms caused by Diabetes mellitus, this disease can eventually result in serious complications including vascular and neurological disorders, cardiac problems, kidney failure, and visual disturbances. However, have you ever wondered why these symptoms occur? In this article we’ll explain why Diabetes makes us thirstier, an abnormality called Polydipsia.
The term Polydipsia refers to a constant, excessive drinking as a result of an increased thirst, which is a physiological mechanism that is activated to prevent dehydration. This is one of the first symptoms of Diabetes mellitus and it is usually accompanied by dryness of the mouth.
Polydipsia can be caused by various medical disorders that create a water deficit such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, blood bleeding, or may even be the effect of some medications. However, in the case of diabetic polydipsia is due to hyperglycemia and it is also accompanied by Polyuria (increased frequency of urination).
Polyuria occurs when the kidneys increase the dilution of the urine in an attempt to reduce the high concentration of glucose. Therefore, as more fluids are absorbed through the kidneys, the frequency of urination and volume of the urine will also increase. As a result of this excessive loss of fluid, body dehydration will occur.
To avoid dehydration, the body will send a signal -by different hormones- to the brain. This will increase thirst and thus the need to consume more fluids, as polydipsia increases. The amount of liquid ingested will be related to water loss through the urine, as well as to blood glucose levels. These symptoms may occur simultaneously in acute cases of hyperglycemia while in mild cases they may go unnoticed to the patients.
We all have experienced at one time or another the feeling of being thirsty, however it is important to differentiate a normal thirst from Polydipsia. Persistent thirst, regardless the amount of water you ingest, and the excretion of more than 3 liters of urine per day indicate that we have Polydipsia. If you have these symptoms and they persist for several days, consult your doctor immediately to have a thorough medical check up and get the appropriate medication.