What is polydipsia and what is it a sign(symptom) of?

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dano7744's profile pic

dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Polydipsia is extreme thirst that can't be quenched. One group of people that suffer from this are undiagnosed diabetics. The renal system can't conserve glucose properly because blood glucose concentrations are too high. The kidneys "spill" glucose into the urine (glycosuria). When this happens water follows glucose into the urine by osmosis (passive process), this results in a net water loss from the body (polyuria). Because of the water loss from polyuria, the person stays thirsty (polydipsia).

The good news is that if we regulate the blood sugar better, all these symptoms will disapear because you will no longer be dumping glucose into the urine.

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Polydipsia is when a person is incredibly thirsty and is drinking lots of fluids. They have very high levels of sugar (diabetes) in their bloodstream and the kidneys are working overtime in order to get rid of the sugar. They produce a lot of urine so the body needs fluids in order to replace the lost fluids.

Polydipsia usually occurs in people who have diabetes. It can also be a sign of some kind of fluid imbalance in the body or decrease in blood volume.

Polydipsia is not a disease but it is actually a symptom which means excessive thirst.

kc4u's profile pic

kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The term polydipsia[polys(much/many) +dipsa(thirst)] is Greek in origin. It is not a disease, but a condition symptomatic of a disease, usually diabetes--diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus--unless it is psychogenic polydipsia as seen in some patients suffering from schizophrenia.

'Polydipsia' or chronic excessive thirst occurs in undiagnosed/untreated/poorly treated diabetes. An excessive concentration of glucose in the blood osmotically pulls intracellular fluid in the blood-stream leading to increased excretion of fluid via urination. Excessive drinking of water and other fluids may lead to saline imbalance in the body. Polyuria(passage of excess volumes of urine) may occur in conjunction with polydipsia. The former may be the cause of the latter or the latter may cause the former.

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