What is Thirst? ^

As we all know, thirst is a feeling described as eagerness to drink water. This is a normal reaction of the body if there is not enough fluid to sustain the normal physiologic functioning. Basically, our body is composed of 80% water. If this level goes down at around 70%, the body signals the brain to activate the release of ADH.


If the bail goes down at around 60%, it places us from a critical condition that can lead to fatality. This makes water as an important factor for human survival. Clinically, this is considered as a body coping mechanism. If the body feels that the fluid amount is decreasing, it tells the brain to rehydrate the body. Thus, it also considered as an indication for extensive fluid loss.

Physical Assessments for Thirst ^

Thirst is a cardinal sign that indicates the low concentration of water in the body. It is usually associated with dryness of skin and mucus membranes. The body reacts and produces an electrical impulse to the brain.

This physiologic functioning activates if there is insufficient amount of fluid in the body. As a result, the brain stimulate the pituitary gland to produce a certain hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which works to retain the fluids in the body and controls fluid loses.

What are the Clinical Indications of Thirst? ^

Medically, thirst is the earliest sign of dehydration. However, this manifestation is associated to metabolic disorder such as diabetes mellitus. Increasing level of this mechanism (polydipsia) is an indication of type 1 or 2 diabetes. Below are the overviews of clinical indications that involve this body mechanism:

  1. Dehydration: This condition is characterized as fluid loses that can lead to extreme low level of water in the body. Clinical manifestations for this health problem are dryness of skin, depressed fontanels, presence of eye bags, absence of tears and sweats, cracking of lips, and dry mucous membrane. All of these manifestations are considered as late signs of dehydration.
  2. Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes Mellitus is metabolic disorder that involves alteration in the normal production of insulin. Insulin is a hormonal substance released from the pancreas. It works to carry glucose and water to the cells. However, the cells build resistance against insulin. Thus, thirsty mechanism is activated as a response to insufficient cellular absorption of fluid.
  3. Diabetes Insipidus: Diabetes Insipidus is is another metabolic problem that involves the abnormal production of antidiuretic hormone. As a result, the body loses fluid through excessive urination (polyuria), which is a cardinal sign of diabetes insipidus. This can lead to massive fluid excretion that can activate the thirsty mechanism.

What is the Relationship of Thirst and Dehydration? ^

Hydration is very important for relieving thirst. Increasing fluid intake through oral ingestion or intravenous fluid administration can counteract the signs of dehydration. This condition is closely associated to thirsty mechanism because it involves excessive fluid loss.

The body excretes fluid through sensible and insensible process. Normally, we need to rehydrate our body if we sweat out fluids. Thus it is meant to compensate for the fluid losses with appropriate distribution or supply. Moreover, there are cases such as diarrhea and vomiting that can reinforce the occurrence of dehydration.

Dehydration affects the normal functioning of the body and may result to the activation of thirst mechanism.

It is always suggested to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water in a day to keep the body hydrated and maintain proper intake of fluid.

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