Polydipsia is a symptom that results in increased thirst. What are the causes of this symptom and the risks of complications? How to diagnose and treat the underlying pathology? Update with Doctor Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens.
“Polydipsia is a symptom that results in increased thirst“, explains Doctor Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens. The corollary of this increased thirst being a increased fluid intake and urine volume. Thus, people with polydipsia have a constant feeling of thirst which will lead them to drink large quantities of water. Either, “well beyond normal fluid needs“, says Dr. Kierzek. And, to urinate very often.
What are the causes of polydipsia?
- This polydipsia is frequently associated with what is called polyurie-polydipsie where the polyuro-polydipsia syndrome (“polyuro” meaning that we drink and urinate), typical of diabetes mellitus. “In particular type 1 diabetes or poorly controlled type 2 diabetes., reports Gérald Kierzek. Polydipsia is therefore one of the symptoms of revelation, of discovery of type 1 diabetes. And for good reason, this polydipsia is due to an increase in blood sugar – sugar level, glucose – or, to try to dilute, to reduce the sugar level, our body demands more to drink;
- There may be another form of diabetes called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. It is a disease that is caused by a dysfunction of antidiuretic hormone secretion called ADH (antidiuretic hormone) or Vasopressin. This reduction in ADH secretion will then cause a polyurie excessive, that is to say abundant urine production (osmotic diuresis). Also, “to compensate for the loss through urine and to hydrate, there is a compensatory polydipsia”, he deciphers. In other words, we lose too much fluid so we become thirsty and drink excessively;
- Among the other causes, the doctor also listshypercalcemia. When you have a high level of calcium in the blood, this can, in fact, lead to polydipsia;
- Polydipsia may also be present, as pointed out by dr. Kierzek, “in case of’hyperfunction of the adrenal glandsthis is what we call Maladie de Cushing” ;
- There are also the pituitary diseasesa small gland present in the brain. “If the pituitary gland is disrupted, it can disrupt water regulation in the body”he reports.
- “Polydipsia can also have so-called “psychogenic” causes, if there are psychological or psychiatric factorsin the same way as a hyperphagia disorder, a bulimia disorder for example”underlines Gérald Kierzek.
Risks of complications of polydipsia
Drinking to excess, which we call to potomania, can be dangerous for health. Indeed, potomania leads “a dilution of all blood electrolytes in the human body”, reveals the emergency doctor. Consequence: the sodium will be diluted, we speak of hyponatremia, and this can cause water intoxication. “This dilution of the organism can cause cerebral edemaof the disturbances of consciousnessof the neurological disorders et in the most serious cases, lead to coma, or even death“he warns.
In short, the pathological, psychological or physical cause of polydipsia will cause the symptoms (diabetes, diabetes insipidus, etc.) and the complication: for example, decompensated diabetes can give rise to a diabetic ketoacidosisthe risk being of dying because of too much diabetes.
Untreated, this diabetes can cause other complications such as blindness, stroke or chronic kidney failure. We can also succumb to hypercalcemia. Polydipsia is the symptom, but hypercalcemia will cause heart rhythm disturbances and therefore cardiac arrest.
Who to consult if polydipsia is suspected?
Do you find yourself in the symptom of polydipsia, you have a feeling of thirst or/and drink constantly, go to urinate often or/and your urine volume is abnormally abundant? The first thing to do is to go consult your general practitioner to discuss it and find the cause behind this increased thirst.
Diagnostic de la polydipsie
The first test to be done is glycemia. “This test is carried out on the tip of the finger with a blood glucose meter to check that there is no diabetes”, reports Dr. Kierzek. The other test that the doctor may order is called an ionogram. “Carried out through a blood test, the ionogram will allow us to see calcium, sodium, potassium and thus evaluate the causes and consequences of this polydipsia”, he explains. Finally, if there are rare causes, we perform a 24 hour urine samplespecialized examinations, most often carried out at a endocrinologist.
Polydipsia, what are the treatments?
“There is no treatment for polydipsia as such since it is only a symptom”, recalls Gérald Kierzek. In return, “we are going to treat the pathology that is the causethe origin of the symptom”, he explains. In fact, if the cause is of psychiatric origin, the patient will be followed by a psychiatrist, if it is a physical pathology, such as diabetes, the patient will be referred to a diabetologist with a view to lowering his blood sugar. .