Why Do You Get Thirsty When You Have Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is defined as a chronic health condition in which blood sugar or blood glucose levels become high. There are 2 kinds of diabetes namely Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes occurs as a result of insulin resistance, obesity, hereditary factors etc. Common symptoms of Diabetes are sudden and unexpected weight loss, blurred vision, increased appetite, numbness and tingling sensation in the feet and hands, fatigue, hard-to-heal sores and increased urination. Another very common symptom of diabetes is excessive thirst felt by the patients. So why does high blood sugar cause increased thirst? Well, first and foremost it should be remembered that excessive thirst is not a favourable indicator of diabetes. For most people this symptom shows up very slowly, which makes it almost impossible to determine any marked increase in the thirst experienced by the individual. Sudden increase in thirst is also a common symptom for many other illnesses like common cold, flu, allergies, other forms of fever, vomiting and diarrhea. So, although heightened thirst does occur in diabetes patients and needs to be treated too, it’s not always a very solid indicator of diabetes. Getting a blood sugar test done is the best way of getting diabetes diagnosed. Are you a high blood sugar patient? Do you feel unusually thirsty? Want to know why do you get so thirsty when you have diabetes? The following read tells all about excessive thirst in diabetes.

Why Do You Get Thirsty When You Have Diabetes?

Why Do You Get Thirsty When You Have Diabetes?

Excessive thirst that appears as a symptom of another health condition is termed as Polydipsia. Polydipsia is one of the initial symptoms of diabetes and is generally accompanied by cotton mouth, i.e. increased dryness of the mouth. Although this symptom appears quite early in Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics, it is generally quite difficult to mark. This is because the thirst builds up very slowly and doesn’t get noticed until other symptoms of diabetes present themselves too or until extreme dehydration is experienced by the individual.

Under normal health conditions, when a person is optimally hydrated, almost all the glucose is extracted from their urine by their kidney and returned into the body. But the kidney loses its ability to absorb glucose from water when the glucose in the blood stream becomes hyper-concentrated, i.e. around 200mg/dL for most people. When this occurs, the osmotic pressure increases. Osmotic pressure is defined as the pressure, which is created between liquids with high and low concentration of solutes. The osmotic pressure eventually becomes so high that water can no longer be pulled out and returned back into the blood stream and in fact gets absorbed outside the bloodstream. Thus, diabetics end up urinating more than normal and end up feeling thirstier.

Side-Effects of Type 1 Diabetes Dehydration

Although increased thirst seems like a small health issue, the underlying dehydration that triggers this thirst is considerably serious. If this diabetes related dehydration is not treated in time, side effects like dizziness, nausea, headache and fainting can be experienced by the patient.

Dehydration can also lead to diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA in diabetes patients. DKA is a condition which causes naturally-occurring acids to accumulate in the body and lead to, organ failure, coma and even death.

Further, severe dehydration can actually cause blood sugar levels to rise more rapidly than normal. This happens partially because the kidneys, in the presence of long lasting dehydration, slowly begin to produce less urine than usual and thus are unable to expel much of the excess glucose. A lesser known reason for the elevation in blood sugar levels is that dehydration triggers the body to release adrenaline and other hormones, which act as insulin blockers. For ones with Type 2 diabetes, the effect is as if their diabetes had suddenly kicked into over drive, and glucose stops being broken down almost completely.


If prolonged symptoms of dehydration are experienced, one should immediately consult their doctor. If these symptoms are accompanied by shock, unconsciousness or severe impairment, then one should contact an emergency paramedic team right away. Even if an individual does not display symptoms of dehydration, drinking plenty of water is very essential for managing a healthy blood glucose level in the body and staying fit in general and especially for diabetics. A good understanding and acceptance of the symptoms of diabetes can help a diabetic manage their illness better.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 14, 2018

Recent Posts

Related Posts