Polydipsia is excessive thirst or excess drinking.  The word derives from the Greek πολυδίψιος (poludípsios) "very thirsty",  which is derived from πολύς (polús, "much, many") + δίψα (dípsa, "thirst"). Polydipsia is a nonspecific symptom in various medical disorders. It also occurs as an abnormal behaviour in some non-human animals, such as in birds. 
Polydipsia can be characteristic of diabetes mellitus, often as an initial symptom. It is observed in cases of poorly controlled diabetes, which is sometimes the result of low patient adherence to anti-diabetic medication. 
Diabetes insipidus ("tasteless" diabetes, as opposed to diabetes mellitus) can also cause polydipsia. 
It can also be caused by a change in the osmolality of the extracellular fluids of the body, hypokalemia, decreased blood volume (as occurs during major hemorrhage), and other conditions that create a water deficit.  This is usually a result of osmotic diuresis.
Polydipsia is also a symptom of anticholinergic poisoning. Zinc is also known to reduce symptoms of polydipsia by causing the body to absorb fluids more efficiently (reduction of diarrhea, induces constipation) and it causes the body to retain more sodium; thus a zinc deficiency can be a possible cause. The combination of polydipsia and (nocturnal) polyuria is also seen in (primary) hyperaldosteronism (which often goes with hypokalemia). Antipsychotics can have side effects such as dry mouth that may make the patient feel thirsty.
Primary polydipsia describes excessive thirst and water intake caused in the absence of physiological stimuli to drink. This includes both psychogenic primary polydipsia and non-psychogenic primary polydipsia, such as in patients with autoimmune chronic hepatitis with severely elevated globulin levels. 
Psychogenic polydipsia is an excessive water intake  seen in some patients with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, or with developmental disabilities. It should be taken very seriously, as the amount of water ingested exceeds the amount that can be excreted by the kidneys,  and can on rare occasions be life-threatening as the body's serum sodium level is diluted to an extent that seizures and cardiac arrest can occur.
While psychogenic polydipsia is generally not found outside the population of serious mental disorders, there is some anecdotal evidence of a milder form (typically called 'habit polydipsia' or 'habit drinking') that can be found in the absence of psychosis or other mental conditions. The excessive levels of fluid intake may result in a false diagnosis of diabetes insipidus, since the chronic ingestion of excessive water can produce diagnostic results that closely mimic those of mild diabetes insipidus. As discussed in the entry on diabetes insipidus, "Habit drinking (in its severest form termed psychogenic polydipsia) is the most common imitator of diabetes insipidus at all ages. While many adult cases in the medical literature are associated with mental disorders, most patients with habit polydipsia have no other detectable disease. The distinction is made during the water deprivation test, as some degree of urinary concentration above isosmolar is usually obtained before the patient becomes dehydrated." However, prior to a water deprivation test, consideration should be given to a psychiatric consult to see whether it is possible to rule out psychogenic polydipsia or habit polydipsia.
Polydipsia is a symptom (evidence of a disease state), not a disease in itself. As it is often accompanied by polyuria (excessive urination) and low sodium levels. Investigations directed at diagnosing diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus can be useful. Blood serum tests can also provide useful information about the osmolality of the body's extracellular fluids. A decrease in osmolality caused by excess water intake will decrease the serum concentration of red blood cells, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and sodium. 
Central pontine myelinolysis is a neurological condition involving severe damage to the myelin sheath of nerve cells in the pons. It is predominately iatrogenic (treatment-induced), and is characterized by acute paralysis, dysphagia, dysarthria, and other neurological symptoms.
Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a condition characterized by large amounts of dilute urine and increased thirst. The amount of urine produced can be nearly 20 liters per day. Reduction of fluid has little effect on the concentration of the urine. Complications may include dehydration or seizures.
In physiology, dehydration is a lack of total body water, with an accompanying disruption of metabolic processes. It occurs when free water loss exceeds free water intake, usually due to exercise, disease, or high environmental temperature. Mild dehydration can also be caused by immersion diuresis, which may increase risk of decompression sickness in divers.
Polyuria is excessive or an abnormally large production or passage of urine. Increased production and passage of urine may also be termed diuresis. Polyuria often appears in conjunction with polydipsia, though it is possible to have one without the other, and the latter may be a cause or an effect. Primary polydipsia may lead to polyuria. Polyuria is usually viewed as a symptom or sign of another disorder, but it can be classed as a disorder, at least when its underlying causes are not clear.
Thirst is the craving for potable fluids, resulting in the basic instinct of animals to drink. It is an essential mechanism involved in fluid balance. It arises from a lack of fluids or an increase in the concentration of certain osmolites, such as sodium. If the water volume of the body falls below a certain threshold or the osmolite concentration becomes too high, structures in the brain detect changes in blood constituents and signal thirst.
Electrolyte imbalance, or water-electrolyte imbalance, is an abnormality in the concentration of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. They help to regulate heart and neurological function, fluid balance, oxygen delivery, acid–base balance and much more. Electrolyte imbalances can develop by consuming too little or too much electrolyte as well as excreting too little or too much electrolyte.
Hypernatremia, also spelled hypernatraemia, is a high concentration of sodium in the blood. Early symptoms may include a strong feeling of thirst, weakness, nausea, and loss of appetite. Severe symptoms include confusion, muscle twitching, and bleeding in or around the brain. Normal serum sodium levels are 135–145 mmol/L. Hypernatremia is generally defined as a serum sodium level of more than 145 mmol/L. Severe symptoms typically only occur when levels are above 160 mmol/L.
Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, hyperhydration, overhydration, or water toxemia, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by excessive water intake.
Nocturia is defined by the International Continence Society (ICS) as “the complaint that the individual has to wake at night one or more times for voiding .” The term is derived from Latin nox, night, and Greek [τα] ούρα, urine. Causes are varied and can be difficult to discern. Although not every patient needs treatment, most people seek treatment for severe nocturia, waking up to void more than 2–3 times per night.
Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, also known as renal diabetes insipidus, is a form of diabetes insipidus primarily due to pathology of the kidney. This is in contrast to central or neurogenic diabetes insipidus, which is caused by insufficient levels of antidiuretic hormone. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is caused by an improper response of the kidney to antidiuretic hormone, leading to a decrease in the ability of the kidney to concentrate the urine by removing free water.
Primary polydipsia and psychogenic polydipsia are forms of polydipsia characterised by excessive fluid intake in the absence of physiological stimuli to drink. Psychogenic polydipsia which is caused by psychiatric disorders, often schizophrenia, is often accompanied by the sensation of dry mouth. Some forms of polydipsia are explicitly non-psychogenic. Primary polydipsia is a diagnosis of exclusion.
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) is a complication of diabetes mellitus in which high blood sugar results in high osmolarity without significant ketoacidosis. Symptoms include signs of dehydration, weakness, leg cramps, vision problems, and an altered level of consciousness. Onset is typically over days to weeks. Complications may include seizures, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, mesenteric artery occlusion, or rhabdomyolysis.
Bartter syndrome (BS) is a rare inherited disease characterised by a defect in the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle, which results in low potassium levels (hypokalemia), increased blood pH (alkalosis), and normal to low blood pressure. There are two types of Bartter syndrome: neonatal and classic. A closely associated disorder, Gitelman syndrome, is milder than both subtypes of Bartter syndrome.
A fluid or water deprivation test is a medical test which can be used to determine whether the patient has diabetes insipidus as opposed to other causes of polydipsia. The patient is required, for a prolonged period, to forgo intake of water completely, to determine the cause of the thirst.
Specific gravity, in the context of clinical pathology, is a urinalysis parameter commonly used in the evaluation of kidney function and can aid in the diagnosis of various renal diseases.
Central diabetes insipidus, also called neurogenic diabetes insipidus, is a type of diabetes insipidus due to a lack of vasopressin (ADH) production in the brain. Vasopressin acts to increase the volume of blood (intravascularly), and decrease the volume of urine produced. Therefore, a lack of it causes increased urine production and volume depletion.
Hypoosmolar hyponatremia is a condition where hyponatremia associated with a low plasma osmolality. The term "hypotonic hyponatremia" is also sometimes used.
Polydipsia is an excessively large water intake. Its occurrence in captive birds has been recorded, although it is a relatively rare abnormal behaviour.
Potomania is a specific hypo-osmolality syndrome related to massive consumption of beer, which is poor in solutes and electrolytes. With little food or other sources of electrolytes, consumption of large amounts of beer or other dilute alcoholic drinks leads to electrolyte disturbances, where the body does not have enough nutrients known as electrolytes, namely sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The symptoms of potomania are similar to other causes of hyponatremia and include dizziness, muscular weakness, neurological impairment and seizures, all related to hyponatremia and hypokalaemia. While the symptoms of potomania are similar to other causes of hyponatremia and acute water intoxication, it should be considered an independent clinical entity because of its often chronic nature of onset, pathophysiology, and presentation of symptoms.
Adipsia, also known as hypodipsia, is a symptom of inappropriately decreased or absent feelings of thirst. It involves an increased osmolality or concentration of solute in the urine, which stimulates secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) from the hypothalamus to the kidneys. This causes the person to retain water and ultimately become unable to feel thirst. Due to its rarity, the disorder has not been the subject of many research studies.