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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 too much salt.


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


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
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Injury or tumor of part of the brain, either the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
  • Stroke
  • Tumor that causes syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)

Home Care

Follow your provider's recommendations.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if you notice any abnormal lack of thirst.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The 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 your 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 provider will recommend treatment if needed.

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

Alternative Names

Adipsia; Lack of thirst; Absence of thirst


Al-Awqati Q. Disorders of sodium and water. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 108.

Guber HA, Oprea M, Russell YX. Evaluation of endocrine function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 25.

Verbalis JG. Disorders of water balance. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 15.

Review Date 2/2/2023

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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