Why Am I Always Thirsty?

Sometimes, your throat just feels parched. anyaivanova/Shutterstock

Water — it's the ultimate thirst quencher for most. But for some people, "water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink" is the ironic truth of a parched palate. Some people are just always thirsty.

If you often wonder, "Why am I always thirsty — even though I drink plenty of fluids?" here are a handful of likely culprits:

  • Symptoms of diabetes
  • Water intoxication (hyponatremia)
  • Sinus infections
  • Prescription drug side effects
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Drinking the right fluids

It’s rare for someone who is fit, eats a diet rich in all-natural foods and drinks plenty of water to experience chronic thirst. However, for the bulk of the U.S. population — infrequent exercisers who consume a lot of processed food — sugar is often a major ingredient in beverages. Satisfying thirst with sugar-soaked drinks instead of healthy beverages spikes blood sugar levels (especially if the beverages aren't consumed at the same time as protein and natural fat), potentially leading to diabetes. (More on that shortly.)

If you’re always thirsty, avoid drinking seemingly healthy beverages like 100%t fruit juices or smoothies, as these drinks may contain 30 grams or higher of sugar per serving. Also avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine intake, as both can dehydrate.

Reasons for diabetics to dump sugar

Diabetes, especially the more-common Type 2 variety, is a major contributor to chronic thirst. Think of sugar as an illegal drug: you need more and more of it to elicit a desired feeling. The hormone insulin is released by the pancreas and controls blood sugar, carrying it to your trillions of cells.

Like an illicit drug, it becomes less potent and effective over time as someone constantly chases a sugar fix. The cells are already saturated with glycogen (blood sugar); they can’t handle any more insulin knocking at the door. Like an unwanted drug pusher at a party, the cells refuse entry to the extra sugar-carrying insulin cells.

The extra sugar has to go somewhere. So in an effort to carry the excess sugar out through the urinary tract, the cells signal thirst to the brain so more fluids are consumed in an attempt to rid the body of the excess sugars. (But some diabetics can’t help it: In the case of "diabetes insipidus," the kidneys struggle to conserve water, leading to insatiable thirst.)

Water can be intoxicating

With triple-digit temperatures fast approaching this summer, some people, especially endurance athletes and children, will guzzle water, perhaps gallons of it, in an attempt to stymie the brutal heat.

Excessive sweating causes blood sodium levels to precipitously plummet, potentially leading to nerve synapses misfiring and muscle weakness. Drinking too much water and not replacing electrolytes like sodium may cause "hyponatremia," aka water intoxication.

Hyponatremia is a serious, potentially deadly electrolyte imbalance. It’s theorized that in some people with hypnoatremia, when low sodium levels occur, it signals thirst by the brain in an effort to alleviate chronic dry mouth.

You lose sodium when you sweat. Drinking water — even copious amounts — will not rehydrate the body with necessary trace minerals like sodium; try sprinkling a few teaspoons of unprocessed sea salt (gray or pink in color) per four cups of water to ensure you resupply the body with enough electrolytes and trace minerals. Or, here is a recipe to make your own electrolyte drink.

Other reasons for being always thirsty

Medications such as phenothiazine can sometimes produce a side effect of dry mouth and lead to an insatiable thirst. Sinus infections and congested noses force you to breathe out of your mouth, another reason for being constantly thirsty.

Are you always thirsty? Post a comment below.

Judd Handler is author of "Living Healthy: 10 Steps to Looking Younger, Losing Weight and Feeling Great."