What is diabetes insipidus?

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Diabetes insipidus is an uncommon condition that develops once the kidneys could not conserve water. This results to excessive thirst for water and the frequent need to urinate. There are various types of diabetes insipidus and they are often effectively treated.

Types of diabetes insipidus

Central diabetes insipidus

This is the most common form and triggered by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. This impairment means that the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) could not be produced, stored and/or released normally.

Dipsogenic diabetes insipidus

This form is triggered by dysfunction of the thirst mechanism in the brain that results to drinking excess liquid. The precise cause is uncertain but linked conditions include sarcoidosis and mental illness.

Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus
The chief symptoms of diabetes insipidus include excessive thirst and surplus urine volume.

This form is due to impairment to the kidneys which makes them unresponsive to ADH. This can also be triggered by certain drugs, increased level of calcium in the body or other conditions such as polycystic kidney disease or sickle cell disease.

Gestational diabetes insipidus

This form only occurs during pregnancy in which an enzyme produced by the placenta impairs the mother’s own ADH.

There are also instances in which the cause of diabetes insipidus can be hard to determine.

What are the risk factors?

Remember that the condition can occur to anyone but in almost all cases except for the gestational type, it typically affects males. Based on current studies conducted, it suggests a hereditary link.

What are the indications of diabetes insipidus?

The chief symptoms of diabetes insipidus include excessive thirst and surplus urine volume. It is important to note that the daily urine output can range from 2.6 quarts up to 16 quarts. The normal output of urine is 1.6-2.4 quarts per day. In addition, there is a need to wake up during the night to frequently urinate or experience bedwetting.

The likely symptoms of the condition among young children and infants include the following:

  • Dry skin
  • Crying and fussiness
  • Fever, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Unusually soiled diapers or bedwetting
  • Weight loss
  • Delayed growth

A doctor should be consulted right away if an individual or child is experiencing any of these symptoms.


The treatment for diabetes insipidus usually depends on the type the individual is diagnosed with and the severity of the condition. When it comes to mild cases, the doctor might recommend an increase in the intake of fluids to a specific amount per day.

What is hormone treatment?

The usual form of treatment for all forms is desmopressin which is an artificial hormone that is available as a nasal spray, pill or injection. Take note that this is the synthetic form of the hormone vasopressin. When this medication is used, it is vital to control the intake of water and drink only when thirsty.


The nephrogenic type is managed using high doses of desmopressin along with indomethacin or hydrochlorothiazide.

Underlying conditions

In case diabetes insipidus is triggered by another condition, the doctor will treat the condition first and check if diabetes still requires treatment.

Dietary changes

A low-salt diet is needed to reduce the amount of urine that is being produced by the kidneys.

Lifestyle modifications

These changes are vital in the management of diabetes insipidus. The most essential is the prevention of dehydration. This is done by ensuring that water is on hand at all times. The doctor will help adjust the amount of fluid taken each day.

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