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Ask a doc: ‘Why am I always thirsty — and what should I do about it?'

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Ask a doc: ‘Why am I always thirsty — and what should I do about it?'

If you’re always thirsty even though you try your best to drink water and stay hydrated, there may be health-related reasons.

Beyond impacting your quality of life, excessive thirst can be a symptom of some medical conditions.

Fox News Digital checked in with two doctors to flesh out the common causes behind constant water cravings.

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Here’s a deep dive.

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What causes excessive thirst?

While there are many reasons a person may be feeling more thirsty than usual, there are some common culprits.

Beyond impacting your quality of life, excessive thirst can be a symptom of some medical conditions. (iStock)

Those include dehydration, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or high blood calcium levels, medication side effects and a problem with the pituitary gland or kidneys called diabetes insipidus, which can lead to increased thirst. 

Atil Kargi, M.D., a clinical endocrinologist in the department of neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, broke down those causes in a conversation with Fox News Digital.

Dehydration

Dehydration can occur due to excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting, according to Kargi.

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Alcohol and caffeine can also have diuretic effects that lead to dehydration.

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Eating a high-salt diet or spicy foods may also increase thirst, the doctor noted.

High blood sugar

Diabetes or high blood calcium levels can lead to increased urine production and dehydration.

This triggers thirst — which is the body’s first-line defense mechanism against dehydration, said Kargi.

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Side effects of pharmaceuticals

Some medications can cause increased thirst.

Woman drinking in bed

Dehydration, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or high blood calcium levels and medication side effects can lead to excessive thirst. (iStock)

“In some cases, this can simply be because of dry mouth, which can be observed in those persons taking medications to treat depression or other conditions,” the doctor said. 

Other medications, such as lithium or diuretics, can cause increased urine production and therefore indirectly increase thirst sensation, Kargi added.

Diabetes insipidus

With this condition, the pituitary gland and kidneys fail to work together to keep water in the body. 

“Normally, our pituitary glands produce a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (AVP) that sends a signal to our kidneys that regulates how much urine we produce,” Kargi said. 

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“AVP deficiency or certain kidney disorders can lead to increased water loss via urination, which triggers our thirst mechanism in an effort to prevent dehydration.”

People with diabetes insipidus do not have increased blood sugar levels, said Kargi. 

“This condition should not be confused with the much more common form of diabetes, which refers to those persons having high blood sugar levels.”

Some autoimmune disorders

Certain autoimmune disorders can also lead to excessive thirst and dryness, said Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, M.D., a family physician at Southern New Hampshire Health in Nashua, New Hampshire. 

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Woman drinking water

Certain autoimmune disorders can also lead to excessive thirst and dryness, a doctor said.  (iStock)

“Diseases like cystic fibrosis, Sjogren’s syndrome and other hormonal-related autoimmune disorders can lead to excessive thirst,” she told Fox News Digital.

Lifestyle changes to reduce excessive thirst

If high salt intake or spicy foods seem to be worsening the sense of thirst, dietary changes may help, experts said. 

“Drinking water rather than other liquids, such as energy drinks or caffeinated beverages, can help, too,” Kargi suggested.

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In the absence of severe disorders and pathologies, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to improve overall well-being, Ramas said. 

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“I recommend that my patients drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water a day,” she said. “Just taking 10 gulps of water every hour can help with improving energy, urination, bloating, skin and hair health.”

When to see a doctor

If people notice they’re producing large amounts of urine and urinating more frequently, this may be a reason to discuss symptoms with a doctor, Kargi told Fox News Digital. 

If increased thirst occurs along with other worrisome symptoms — such as excessive fatigue, weakness or weight loss — this may signal a doctor to check laboratory tests to rule out more serious medical conditions, he added.

health test

If increased thirst occurs along with other symptoms — such as excessive fatigue, weakness or weight loss — it is recommended to see a doctor for an exam and laboratory tests. (iStock)

In most cases of increased thirst, doctors can arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan with a detailed exam and simple laboratory tests, Kargi said. 

Not all patients who report increased thirst have an underlying medical condition.

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“We sometimes encounter cases in which psychological factors leading to a sensation of dry mouth may be causing excessive thirst sensation without any other clear reason,” the doctor said.

This condition, called “psychogenic polydipsia,” can be diagnosed with a water deprivation test, Kargi said.

A man pours cold water into a glass.

In the absence of severe disorders and pathologies, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to improve overall well-being, a doctor said. (iStock)

When treating his own patients who complain of increased thirst, the doctor starts by gathering a complete history, focusing on diet and lifestyle, then asks about any other symptoms. 

“If you are a patient who’s seeing a doctor for a complaint of increased thirst, please tell your doctor about any other medical conditions you may have and any medications you are taking,” he advised. 

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“If the cause is not apparent from the initial history and exam, we may need to investigate further with blood and urine tests.”

High blood sugar or high blood calcium levels may require an endocrinologist for evaluation and treatment, Kargi noted.

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Health

Health weekend roundup: A mother's health mission, sleep-blocking foods, heat illnesses and more

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Health weekend roundup: A mother's health mission, sleep-blocking foods, heat illnesses and more

Fox News Digital publishes an array of health pieces all week long to keep you in the know on a range of wellness topics: health care access, innovative surgeries, cancer research, mental health trends and much more — plus, personal stories of people and families overcoming great obstacles.

Check out some top recent stories in Health as your weekend continues — and prep for the week ahead.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER

These are just a few of what’s new, of course. 

There are many more to see at http://www.foxnews/health

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Utah mom fights for her daughter’s access to ‘life-saving’ medication

For Ruby Smart, 15, Levemir is the insulin medication that works best to control her type 1 diabetes — but the manufacturer is discontinuing it. 

Alison Smart is on a mission to protect her daughter’s access to the drug. Click here to get the story.

Utah mother Alison Smart (in green sweater, pictured with Ruby Smart, age 15) is fighting for her teenage daughter’s access to diabetes medicine. (Alison Smart/iStock)

CDC warns of extreme heat dangers

Is extreme heat a public health threat? 

Fox News Digital reports the findings in the latest Mortality & Morbidity Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a spike in emergency room visits due to heat-related illness. Doctors chime in on the potential risk. Click here to get the story.

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Many regions across the United States experienced “record-breaking high temperatures” in 2023 due to extreme heat, according to the CDC. (iStock)

Surprising reason for sleep struggles

If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, you might be overlooking one important lifestyle factor. 

Two sleep specialists reveal essential ingredients for high-quality sleep. Click here to get the story.

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What you eat can have an impact on how well you sleep at night, experts say. (iStock)

The girl who can’t smile

Tayla Clement, 26, was born with a rare disorder that has made it impossible for her to smile — but she says she is grateful for it. 

The New Zealand woman discusses with Fox News Digital how she overcame trauma and learned to celebrate her differences. Click here to get the story.

Tayla Clement split image

Tayla Clement, born and raised in New Zealand, has Moebius syndrome, a neurological disease that affects one child out of every 50,000 to 500,000. (Tayla Clement)

‘Forever chemicals’ found in water across US

A new study found that higher amounts of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances) were found in drinking water in certain parts of the U.S. 

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Public health experts weigh in on the risks of the toxic chemicals. Click here to get the story.

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PFAS “hot spots” were concentrated in the Midwest, New England and the West Coast, the researchers found. (iStock)

Pick-me-ups to beat the midday slump

Is the “post-lunch coma” slowing down your productivity? 

A nutritional biologist shares six proven energy-boosters to to prevent post-meal fatigue. Click here to get the story.

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This week’s health recap includes stories about heat hazards, a mother’s fight for her daughter’s diabetes medication, and a little-known disruption of healthy sleep. (iStock / Alison Smart)

Drinking pure orange juice is linked to surprising benefits

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Nutritionists reacted to the findings. Click here to get the story.

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Americans need more sleep and less stress

Many U.S. adults are getting too little sleep and have too much stress, according to a new Gallup poll. 

Dr. Marc Siegel of New York and a sleep expert and behavioral scientist discuss the connection between disordered sleep and dangerous stress levels. Click here to get the story.

Tired woman at computer

The poll showed that 63% of Americans who reported wanting more sleep also “frequently experience stress.” (iStock)

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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Americans need more sleep, less stress, experts say, as Gallup poll reveals troubling findings

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Americans need more sleep, less stress, experts say, as Gallup poll reveals troubling findings

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Many Americans are getting too little sleep and have too much stress.

A new Gallup poll revealed 57% of adults would “feel better if they got more sleep,” while 42% said they get “as much sleep as they need.”

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These findings have nearly reversed in the last decade, Gallup noted in a press release. The last measurement in 2013 found that 56% of Americans got the sleep they needed while 43% did not.

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Overall, however, Americans are getting fewer hours of sleep than they did in past decades.

In 1942, 59% of Americans were getting eight hours or more of sleep per night, while only 3% were getting five hours or less.

Fifty-seven percent of adults said they would “feel better if they got more sleep,” a new Gallup poll revealed. (iStock)

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In 2024, only 25% of Americans get an average of eight hours of sleep, and 20% reported sleeping for five or less.

Young women are the least likely to get enough sleep, according to the study — with 36% of females versus 48% of males reporting getting enough shuteye.

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Sleep amounts for both men and women showed “significant declines from previous readings in 2013 and 2004,” according to Gallup — and are the lowest measured for each group to date.

The decline was found across all age groups, although young adults between ages 18 and 29 saw the smallest difference.

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Stress-sleep connection

Gallup suggested that an uptick in stress could be driving this downward trend in sleep, as the American Psychological Association reports a “strong connection between stress and sleep quality.”

The poll showed that 63% of Americans who reported wanting more sleep also “frequently experience stress.”

Tired woman at computer

Women are most likely to frequently experience stress, the Gallup poll found. (iStock)

“Over the past 30 years, the number of Americans who are stressed has been on a steady incline after a sharp drop in 2003,” Gallup reported.

“The most recent data show that nearly half of all Americans, 49%, report frequently experiencing stress — up 16 points over the past two decades and the highest in Gallup’s trend to date.”

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Young women are also most likely to frequently experience stress, “exceeding men their age by 14 points,” according to Gallup.

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, confirmed this relationship between sleep and stress, calling it the “cycle of worry” during a Thursday appearance on “America’s Newsroom.”

dr. marc siegel on america's newsroom

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, discussed the relationship between sleep and stress during a Thursday appearance on “America’s Newsroom.” He noted that exposure to the blue light of smartphone screens can keep people awake, among other issues. (Fox News)

“They’re connected,” he said. 

“If you get more stressed, you don’t sleep; if you don’t sleep, you get more stressed.”

Siegel explained that “all of this spirals out of control,” since sleeplessness is often remedied with caffeine — yet caffeine “interferes with your sleep cycle.”

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“If you get more stressed, you don’t sleep; if you don’t sleep, you get more stressed.”

The same goes for drinking alcohol before bed to induce sleep, which “wears off and you wake up in the middle of the night,” the doctor warned. 

Exposure to the blue light of smartphone screens can keep people awake, Siegel said.

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“All of this is very bad for health,” he said. “It leads to heart disease, it increases your risk of stroke, it causes you to gain weight.”

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For young women in particular, several factors could be causing them to lose sleep, including the use of social media, which can “feed anxiety,” Siegel said.

Man on phone

A potential fix to ending the sleep-stress cycle is practicing “sleep hygiene,” said one doctor, which includes sleeping in a dark room away from your cellphone. (iStock)

A potential fix for the sleep-stress cycle is practicing “sleep hygiene,” Siegel suggested, which includes sleeping in a dark room away from your cell phone.

“I treat stress and sleeplessness as the same thing,” he said. “That’s why I don’t believe in sleeping pills … You’re just covering up the problem.”

He added, “I want to get at why you’re worried and what I can do about the worry.”

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Dr. Wendy Troxel, a Utah-based sleep expert and senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, told Fox News Digital in an interview that stress levels have remained “very high” since the COVID pandemic.

“[For] populations navigating multiple demands, including young people who are going to school or starting new jobs in this topsy-turvy world, it’s understandable that they are experiencing increases in stress, and that’s manifesting increases in sleep disturbances,” she said.

dr. wendy troxel headshot

Dr. Wendy Troxel, senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation, is also the author of “Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep” and scientific advisor for sleepfoundation.org. “As a culture,” she said, “we’ve become more aware of the importance of sleep over the past 10 years, which is a great thing.” (Diane Baldwin)

In some instances, Troxel pointed out, lack of sleep has been worn as a “badge of honor” to prove that people are busy or productive.

“But I think that that cultural misconception is starting to wane,” she said.

“The reality is, as a culture, we’ve just become more aware of the importance of sleep over the past 10 years, which is a great thing.”

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To break the “vicious cycle” of stress impacting sleep and vice versa, Troxel offered several tips, including maintaining a consistent sleep and wake schedule to ensure that stress doesn’t “invade your life.”

Incorporating a wind-down routine prior to bed can also bring down stress levels, the sleep expert noted.

These routines can involve relaxing activities such as deep breathing exercises, cuddling with a partner, journaling, doing gentle yoga or listening to music.

man meditates at night on his bed

Wind-down activities before bed can include deep breathing exercises, cuddling with a partner, journaling, doing gentle yoga or listening to music. (iStock)

“It’s just about finding something that you can ritualize and do on a nightly basis to set the stage … to put aside all the demands and stress of the day and prepare for winding down and [going] to sleep,” Troxel said.

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For people who wake up in the middle of the night due to stress, she advised getting out of bed, performing a wind-down activity and then returning to bed.

This technique, called stimulus control, prevents the brain from forming the habit of waking up at a certain time to ruminate on stressful thoughts.

“We all have occasional stress-related sleep disturbances, but if that starts happening night after night, it becomes habit-forming,” she said. 

“And that’s where we see more chronic problems like insomnia. So, if you see that happening, treat it as a habit that your brain is learning — and break it.”

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