Sugar makes you thirsty

Excessive thirst

Thirst always occurs when the body's water content decreases by at least 0.5% or there is an excess of salt. Sensors in the thirst center of the diencephalon continuously measure the osmotic pressure of the blood, which in turn depends on the amount of fluid and salt concentration in the blood. If the osmotic pressure increases, e.g. B. by inadequate drinking or salty food, the thirst center immediately triggers a feeling of thirst. Certain hormones released by the kidney when blood volume decreases can also stimulate the thirst center.

All conditions, both pathological and non-pathological, that are associated with increased fluid loss, reduced fluid intake or increased salt intake lead to an excessive feeling of thirst. A strong thirst after strenuous, sweaty exercise or even after salty meals are therefore completely normal and not a cause for concern. If you lose a lot of water, like after a summer hike or bike ride, your thirst will persist the next day. This is also normal and important so that the water balance comes back into balance.

The situation is different with diseases such as diabetes mellitus.

The increased urine excretion is due to the fact that when the metabolism is poor and the associated high blood sugar levels, more sugar is excreted via the kidneys (glucosuria). Since sugar binds water due to physical laws, the increased sugar excretion automatically leads to an increased water excretion.

The body reacts with increased thirst, so that those affected drink more ("polydipsia") in order to supply the body with the lost fluids.

Some hormonal disorders also increase the excretion of water through the kidneys - these diseases are very rare compared to diabetes.

A special case is increased thirst or compulsive drinking due to a mental disorder. In this case, drinking more is a compulsion or a developed habit.

Excessive drinking without necessity is dangerous: Anyone who ingests large amounts of water quickly without adjusting the electrolyte intake at the same time can suffer from water poisoning. Marathon runners and bike tourers, for example, feel the temptation to do so. In so-called hypotonic hyperhydration, v. a. the percentage of sodium too low. The consequences are nausea and vomiting up to cerebral edema, cramps and even death.

Symptoms, their causes, measures and self-help

  • Increased thirst in extreme heat, fever, saunas and the like

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  • Increased thirst during / after vigorous physical exertion; Decrease in power output; possible concentration disorders

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  • Increased thirst with prolonged diarrhea and / or vomiting; dry lips, dry tongue, skin and mucous membranes; standing skin folds; possibly restlessness, confusion; Self-examination for dehydration

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  • Increased thirst for eating very salty foods

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  • Increased thirst after consuming large amounts of alcohol ("fire")

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  • Constant thirst, increased urination and pronounced muscle weakness; possibly nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and / or constipation; possibly bone pain; possibly depressed mood

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  • Suddenly severe thirst and increased urination; Weight loss; Exhaustion

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  • Constant, excruciating thirst and increased urination, at night, too; Dryness of skin and mucous membranes; Decline in performance; possibly headache, visual disturbances

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  • Strong feeling of thirst, excessively increased drinking behavior and increased urination; Complaints mainly during the day; often starting in times of emotional distress; no signs of dehydration

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  • Increased thirst when taking medication; often increased urination; possibly dry mouth

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Increased thirst in extreme heat, fever, saunas and the like

Root cause:

  • Loss of fluids through sweating

Self help:


Increased thirst during / after vigorous physical exertion; Decrease in power output; possible concentration disorders

Root cause:

  • Loss of fluids through sweating and increased breathing

Self help:

  • Low-carbonated mineral water (possibly with fruit juice), isotonic drinks (in high-performance sports); after heavy water loss slowly and in sips

Increased thirst with prolonged diarrhea and / or vomiting; dry lips, dry tongue, skin and mucous membranes; standing skin folds; possibly restlessness, confusion; Self-examination for dehydration

Root cause:

Measure:

  • Call your family doctor or the clinic immediately if you do not retain fluids and the symptoms increase

Self help:

  • In the case of repeated vomiting: sip drinks, initially cold water is preferred because it best removes the bad taste in the oral cavity
  • If you have diarrhea: drink as much as possible

Increased thirst for eating very salty foods

Root cause:

  • Relative dehydration (hypertonic dehydration: lack of free water in the body)

Self help:

  • Water, herbal or fruit tea

Increased thirst after consuming large amounts of alcohol ("fire")

Root cause:

  • Loss of fluids due to increased urination and electrolyte shifts

Self help:

  • Water, herbal or fruit tea, clear broth

Constant thirst, increased urination and pronounced muscle weakness; possibly nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and / or constipation; possibly bone pain; possibly depressed mood

Root cause:

Hypercalcemia (increased levels of calcium in the blood), e.g. B. as a result

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor

Self help:

  • Avoid foods rich in calcium (e.g. dairy products)

Suddenly severe thirst and increased urination; Weight loss; Exhaustion

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or pediatrician

Constant, excruciating thirst and increased urination, at night, too; Dryness of skin and mucous membranes; Decline in performance; possibly headache, visual disturbances

Root cause:

  • Diabetes insipidus, from unknown cause or z. B. in traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, chronic kidney failure

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor

Strong feeling of thirst, excessively increased drinking behavior and increased urination; Complaints mainly during the day; often starting in times of emotional stress; no signs of dehydration

Root cause:

  • Mentally induced increase in the amount of drinking (psychogenic polydipsia)

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or neurologist

Increased thirst when taking medication; often increased urination; possibly dry mouth

Root cause:

Measure:

  • Speak up at your next doctor's visit if you find this side effect on the package insert of a prescribed medication

Your pharmacy recommends

Drink enough.

Too little drinking naturally makes you thirsty - but how much liquid should you drink every day? Often recommended values ​​are between 1.5 and 3 liters. It is doubtful whether such general guidelines are really useful. To control your own fluid balance, a simple trick has proven its worth instead: the color of the urine. This is because it is very easy to tell whether you have drunk enough. If the urine is very dark in color, it is better to reach for the water bottle again, light-colored urine indicates that the amount you drink is okay.

Compensate for fluid loss.

Diarrhea and vomiting cause the body to lose large amounts of fluids within a short period of time. In order to prevent drying out (dehydration), one should then drink more. Cold or warm water, tea, diluted fruit juices and clear soup broth are suitable. If you are traveling and drinkable water is not available, Cola, Fanta and other soft drinks are the means of choice. Soft drinks are also the best way to get small children to drink enough. Many pharmacies also have ready-made rehydration solutions that compensate for electrolyte losses at the same time.

Drink up against the hangover.

After a night of partying, the proverbial "fire" usually follows. Alcohol draws water from the body, among other things. by suppressing the hormone adiuretin, which causes more fluid to be excreted in the urine. To get this fluid back into the body, only one thing helps: Drink - preferably water, spritzer or tea. Anyone who reaches for coffee risks further irritating the gastric mucosa, which has already been attacked by the alcohol. Spooning vegetable broth has also proven its worth in order to compensate for electrolyte imbalances at the same time.

Authors

Dr. med. Arne Schäffler; Dr. med. Brigitte Strasser-Vogel; in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Editing: Sara Steer | last changed on at 11:01 am


Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.