It never fails to amaze me how much my generation prioritizes hydration. The wellness industrial complex has forced us to be so mindful about it, that at one point I was consistently using an app called Plant Nanny, on which I logged my water intake in order to keep a virtual plant alive. I also have a water bottle that lights up when I haven’t sipped from it in the last hour, and I’m constantly dropping Nuun tablets in my glasses for extra electrolytes.
That said, I mostly chug H20 because I know that drinking enough water is good for your joints, kidneys, skin, and general health — not necessarily because I’m always thirsty, as evidence by all the gadgets I use to remind me to actually drink. If you always feel parched, it can be a sign of a potential health problem and is a good reason to check in with a doctor. One of these culprits could be behind your urge to hit the Brita ‘round the clock.
Unquenchable thirst can be a sign of diabetes, says Erica Hall, an endocrinology nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. When insulin levels are low, sugar glucose can’t be metabolized, and it builds up in your bloodstream, Hall explains. “The kidneys have to work overtime to filter this excessive amount of glucose,” she says. “The excess glucose is excreted into the urine, but the kidneys are also dragging along fluids from the tissues, which makes you dehydrated. When the body is dehydrated, it triggers the thirst response.”
If you have diabetes, you may also experience frequent urination, fatigue, and unexpected weight loss. But Hall recommends going to a doctor even thirst is your only symptom.
Okay, obvious. But it’s also really, really common. If you’re thirsty, first try drinking more. Other red flags that you feel parched because you are parched: dry mouth, a headache, and urine that’s more “banana peel” than it is “banana fruit.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has determined that people need between 11.5 to 15.5 cups of fluid a day, and water-rich foods like grapes or celery count toward your total intake.
But hot weather, exercise, drinking alcohol, and vomiting or having diarrhea can all dry you out, and make you need a little more aqua than usual. (Note: You don’t want to go overboard, though. There is such a thing as drinking too much water, and it’s dangerous.)
You might be mistaking a dry mouth with general thirst. Aging, health conditions (including, like we mentioned before, diabetes), and certain drugs (such as antihistamines or marijuana) can all sap moisture from your mouth. Breathing through your mouth and snoring can also contribute.
If you suspect this is the problem, some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses can help with this condition; the best-known one is probably Biotene. There are also some prescription medications that simulate the production of saliva, Mayo Clinic adds.
This condition is the result of a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body, often a result of low iron levels. RBC carry oxygen to your organs, so a shortfall can make you feel tired and weak. It can also go hand-in-hand with dehydration, too.
A telltale sign that you have anemia: You’re craving ice, a symptom known as pagophagia. “In anemic people, chewing ice increases oxygen in the brain, resulting in a feeling of greater alertness,” as Melissa Hunt, PhD, associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, who has studied pagophagia, previously told Refinery29.
You may be more at risk if you have a heavy or very long menstrual cycle (the blood loss can decrease iron levels) or don’t eat much meat (a major source of iron). If you have it, being diligent about drinking water is a good idea; but you should also head to your doctor for a blood test to determine how you can best boost your levels and reverse the condition.
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