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Thirst - absent

Absence of thirst is a lack of the urge to drink fluids, even when the body is low on water or has an excess amount of salt.

Alternative Names

Adipsia; Lack of thirst; Absence of thirst

Considerations

Not being thirsty at times during the day is normal, if the body does not need fluid replacement. But if you have a sudden change in the need for fluids, you should visit your health care provider right away.

Common Causes

As people age, they are less likely to notice their thirst and may not drink fluids when needed.

Absence of thirst may be due to:

  • Birth defects of the brain
  • Bronchial tumor that causes syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH )
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Injury or tumor of part of the brain called the hypothalamus
  • Stroke

Home Care

Follow your health care provider's recommendations.

Call your health care provider if

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you notice any abnormal lack of thirst.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Did the absence of thirst develop suddenly or slowly?
  • Is the thirst decreased or totally absent?
  • Are you able to drink fluids?
  • Did the loss of thirst follow a head injury?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • Do you have abdominal pain?
  • Do you have headaches?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing ?
  • Do you suddenly dislike drinking fluids?
  • Do you have difficulty breathing ?
  • Do you have a cough?
  • Do you have any changes in appetite?
  • Do you urinate less than usual?
  • Do you have any changes in skin color?
  • What medicines are you taking?

The physical examination may include a detailed nervous system examination if the health care provider suspects a head injury or problem with the hypothalamus. Diagnostic tests will vary depending on the history and physical examination findings.

Based on your evaluation and any tests, your health care provider will recommend treatment if needed.

If you are dehydrated, fluids will likely be given through a vein (IV).

References

Skorecki K, Ausiello D. Disorders of sodium and water homeostasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 118.

Updated: 1/22/2013

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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