Thirst - absent

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

Alternative Names

Adipsia; Lack of thirst; Absence of thirst


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


As people age, they are less likely to notice their thirst. Therefore, they 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 provider's recommendations.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 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 exam.

You may be asked questions such as:

  • When did you first notice this problem? Did it develop suddenly or slowly?
  • Is the thirst decreased or totally absent?
  • Are you able to drink fluids? Do you suddenly dislike drinking fluids?
  • Did the loss of thirst follow a head injury?
  • Do you have other symptoms such as abdominal pain, headaches, or swallowing problems?
  • Do you have a cough or difficulty breathing?
  • 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 provider will do a detailed nervous system exam if a head injury or problem with the hypothalamus is suspected. Tests may be needed depending on the results of your exam.

Your re provider will recommend treatment if needed.

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


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.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 1/31/2015
  • 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, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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