Northside Health Library

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


Not being thirsty at various times during the day is normal, if the body does not need fluid replacement. However, a quick change in the need for fluids should prompt a visit to your doctor.


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

Causes of abscence of thirst may be due to:

  • Birth defects of the brain
  • Bronchial tumor that causes SIADH
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Injury or tumor of part of the brain called the hypothalamus
  • Stroke

Home Care

Follow your health care provider's recommendations.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

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

Medical history questions may include the following:

  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Did the absence of thirst develop suddenly or slowly?
  • Is the thirst decreased or totally absent?
  • Can you 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 medications 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.

Necessary fluids may be given through a vein (IV).


Robinson AG, Verbalis JG. Posterior pituitary. In: Kronenberg HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 9.

Gibbs MA, Tayal VS. Electrolyte disturbances. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 123.

Review Date: 1/31/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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