We all get a little parched now and then, but usually a cool glass of water fixes us right up and we move on, promising to be better about in before bedtime.
That's all well and good until, er, it's not. Because even after a cup of H2O, maybe you still feel thirsty. And even though you have a bottle by your desk, you can never quite seem to quench your thirst.
What's the problem? Here's what the experts say could be causing your extreme thirst.
1. You're dehydrated.
Surprise, surprise: “The number one reason people are going to feel thirsty is they're not drinking enough,” says , R.D., instructor of biomedical sciences at Missouri State University. Sometimes it’s just poor drinking habits; other times it’s a failure to recognize how the environment influences hydration needs. Is it hot or humid outside? Do you live at a higher altitude? Did you do a workout today? "All of these things increase your fluid needs, so you'll need to adjust accordingly," Allen says. By the time you feel thirst, typically you're already 1 to 2% dehydrated, so plan ahead and than you think you'll need — it's always better to have it as a backup.
2. You ate too much salt.
If you have a habit of grabbing salty snacks or starting your day with salt-laden foods (looking at you, cereal), it could be the reason you’re feeling parched. “The ratio of water to salt is very important in the body,” says Prudence Hall, M.D., medical director at . If you eat too much, your body is naturally going to want to dilute it, and that's what causes thirst, she explains. However, it's debatable whether drinking more actually helps to moderate increased amounts of sodium in the body, as a 2017 study in the followed 10 astronauts and found that they excreted excess sodium through urine regardless of how much they drank.
In other words, if your salt intake is high and potentially making you thirsty, try reducing your sodium to 2,300 mg a day as recommended by . That may help more than continuing to drink like a fish.
3. You have diabetes.
“One of the most common medical conditions that can cause persistent thirst is type 2 diabetes,” says , M.S., R.D., a nutrition communications specialist in Connecticut. Basically, it works like this: Your kidneys work to either process or get rid of excess sugar in your body, and when they can’t, the sugar is excreted through urine, which pulls fluid from your body, according to the . This increase in urination leaves you more dehydrated, in turn increasing thirst and causing the sugar-pee-thirst cycle to start all over again. So if you’re feeling thirsty and you notice you're peeing more than usual, give your doctor a heads up — she may want to check your blood sugar.
4. Your mouth is dry.
There’s a chance you're not actually thirsty and you're instead experiencing , a condition that occurs when the salivary glands can't produce enough spit to keep your mouth wet, Allen says. The reports that it's a common side effect of some medications, including antidepressants, dramamine, and hypertension prescriptions. It can also be caused by radiation and chemotherapy, tobacco use, nerve damage, and drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine. To temper your symptoms, Allen suggests sucking on , as it can help stimulate saliva production.
5. You're anemic.
Anemia is a condition that's known for causing fatigue and hair loss, but it can also cause extreme thirst, says Rachel Gilwit, R.D., a nutritionist at . Mild cases can have little to no symptoms, but as it become more severe thirst can start to increase, according to the . If you know you’re already prone to anemia, it’s worth mentioning the symptom to your doctor to find out if the two are connected.
6. You're getting older.
“As [you] age, your thirst mechanism and thirst responses are not as strong,” Allen says. That simply means that older people tend to drink less, and it's super common for those in their later years to become dehydrated much faster than someone in their twenties. If that sounds like you, consider setting reminders to drink up, or invest in a that glows when it's time to take some more sips.
7. You have diabetes insipidus.
A completely separate disease from types 1 and 2, diabetes insipidus isn’t a condition concerned with blood sugar, but rather an antidiuretic hormone that’s gone awry. Patients with the rare condition can’t control how much water they release through their urine, causing them to pee in larger volumes than the average person, according to the . This leads to dehydration that in turn encourages them to drink large volumes of water. If you think this might be you, your doctor may want to run blood and urine tests, or even try a to see how much urine you produce when you're not drinking anything. From there, she'll be able to help you with appropriate medication and hopefully temper your symptoms.