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Dehydration and Elevated Heart Rates

By Laura Wallace Henderson

Many people have increased thirst from time to time, commonly due to eating salty foods, exercise or working in the heat. However, an unusual increase in thirst, especially if you experience a rapid heartbeat, can signal the presence of an underlying illness or health condition. Consult your medical health professional in order to rule out serious causes of these uncomfortable symptoms.

Metabolic Disorders

Disorders that affect your body’s ability to process food into energy, such as diabetes and hypoglycemia, can cause an increase in thirst and a rapid heart rate. Diabetes occurs when your pancreas fails to secrete adequate amounts of insulin. The symptoms may come on suddenly or develop over time. In addition to thirst and an increase in heart rate, you may also experience weight loss, hunger, and an increase in urination. Diet and insulin injections can help control diabetes.


Dehydration occurs when your body loses water and essential electrolytes, such as phosphate, sodium, calcium and potassium. Fever, vomiting and diarrhea are common causes of dehydration. Dehydration causes a multitude of symptoms, such as fatigue, confusion, dry mouth, thirst and increases in breathing and heart rate. While drinking fluids can rehydrate some people, others may require intravenous solutions.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical care. Long, extreme exposure to the sun that causes inadequate sweating can result in heat stroke. This occurs when you do not produce enough sweat to lower your body temperature. Symptoms of this life-threatening condition may include agitation, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations and headache. Emergency treatments of individuals suffering from heat stroke include ice packs to the armpits and groin, fanning and intravenous fluids.

Food Poisoning

While the main symptoms of food poisoning commonly involve the digestive tract, such as vomiting and diarrhea, other symptoms may occur. Contaminated foods and drinks that contain viruses, parasites or bacteria can lead to food poisoning. Staphylococcus and E.coli are the most common causes of food borne illnesses. Symptoms of illness, including headache, fever and weakness, may begin within a few hours or days. While some cases of food poisoning resolve on their own, it is important to contact your doctor if you experience extreme thirst, a racing heartbeat or notice blood in your stools.


Certain medications, such as oxycodone with acetaminophen, may cause side effects that cause your heart to beat faster and make you feel thirsty. While some drug side effects don’t require medical attention, your doctor can review your prescriptions and help you determine if they are the cause of your symptoms.

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