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Diabetes Insipidus: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Fact-checked by Nikhil deore

Written by Nikita · Updated 27/11/2021

Diabetes Insipidus: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Diabetes Insipidus?

It is a disorder that is characterised by extreme thirst and passing of a large amount of odourless and colourless urine. The condition is not related to diabetes mellitus (type 1 and type 2 diabetes – often simply referred to as diabetes).

Other names for the disorder are:

  • Vasopressin-resistant Diabetes Insipidus
  • Congenital Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus
  • Diabetes Insipidus Renalis
  • Nephrogenic
  • ADH-resistant Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes Insipidus in infants

Infants with the health condition may face a loss of appetite and delay in growth. If not treated well, the health condition may damage your infant’s bladder and kidneys that can lead to infection and kidney failure.

Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetes Insipidus are not the same. Though the mention of ‘diabetes’ in the names of both the conditions can be a little misleading. Extreme thirst and excessive passing of urine are the only things common to both the conditions.

In simple terms, the word ‘diabetes’ means ‘to go through’ indicating the excessive passing of urine. Mellitus means the urine is sweet, while Insipidus means the urine is tasteless and odourless. In the health disorder, the hormones that help to maintain the body balance liquid do not function properly. While in diabetes mellitus, the body is unable to generate energy from the food it consumes.

Different types include:

1) Central Diabetes Insipidus

2) Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

3) Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus

4) Gestational Diabetes Insipidus

Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus

Signs and symptoms include:

  • The first symptom in all cases is the frequent need to pee.
  • The second symptom is excessive thirst.
  • Excessive loss of water through urine can cause dehydration.
  • Excessive dehydration can cause hypernatraemia.
  • Frequent need to pee can also cause sleep disturbance.
  • Kids suffering from it can experience diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • If not treated, it can also cause kidney damage.

Other symptoms include:

  • Unexplained weakness
  • Muscle pains
  • Irritability

Kids suffering from the health condition may have the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Bedwetting
  • Delay in growth

Complications include:


It can cause dehydration. Dehydration may lead to:

  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Inelasticity in skin

Read More : Polyphagia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Electrolyte imbalance

It may lead to electrolyte imbalance. When the body excretes excess of water, the electrolyte level in the body increases, causing the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Causes of Diabetes Insipidus

    Your body produces a substance called vasopressin, also called an anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that helps to control the speed of the fluids that are passed from the body. ADH is produced in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and deposited in the pituitary gland. It guides the kidney to hold or pass the water. In simple terms, when your body is dehydrated, ADH level rises and your kidneys absorb more water and excrete concentrated urine. If your body is overhydrated, ADH level goes down and your kidneys pass out clear urine.

    The causes vary depending on the type:

    • Central Diabetes Insipidus occurs when damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus disturbs the body’s production and release of ADH. The damage can be due to surgery, tumour, infection, or head injury. In this condition, your body releases excessive fluids and you urinate more.
    • Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus occurs when your kidneys don’t respond to ADH. Some of its causes are chronic kidney diseases, blocked urinary tract, high blood calcium level, or low level of potassium. The condition can also be caused due to genetic disorder.
    • Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus occurs when your body cannot control your thirst. The excessive water makes you urinate more and as a result, your body lowers the amount of ADH it creates. Causes of dipsogenic diabetes may include injury to pituitary glands due to inflammation, infection, and surgery. It is also known as primary polydipsia.
    • Gestational Diabetes Insipidus is rare and occurs only in pregnant women. It occurs when the placenta produces an enzyme that disturbs the mother’s ADH.

    Normal fluid regulation

    Water occupies 60 per cent of your body’s overall mass. It is very important to maintain the adequate amount of fluid your body needs in a day. Sweat and urine are ways to eliminate excess fluid from your body. The kidneys play an important part in maintaining a healthy level of fluid in your body. If your body loses more fluid due to sweating, then it balances the fluid by making less urine or vice versa.

    Your brain plays an important role in following the process. The hypothalamus, a small part of the brain, is located at the base of the brain near the pituitary gland. It controls your feeling of thirst and your urge to drink water. Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) produced by the brain is stored in the pituitary gland.

    The pituitary gland releases and gets rid of water as per the body’s requirement. When any part of this system breaks, it leads to the health condition.

    Read More : Complete Blood Count Test: Why and How is it Done?

    Risk Factors of Diabetes Insipidus

    One of the main risk factors for developing diabetes insipidus is genetic predisposition.

    Diagnosis of Diabetes Insipidus

    To check if you have the health condition, your doctor will first carry out a physical examination followed by an understanding of your health history. Later, the doctor may ask you to do a series of tests that includes:

    • Urine Analysis – Your doctor will send your urine samples to check if your urine is concentrated or diluted. The test will also check the glucose level. The doctor might also ask you to collect your urine for over a day to check the quantity.
    • Blood Test – Your doctor may carry out a blood test to check the electrolyte and glucose level. This will help the doctor to understand whether you have the health condition or not. If yes, then its type and level are also tested for.
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – This test helps you to take pictures of your internal organs, which helps to check if there is an issue with the pituitary gland.
    • Fluid Deprivation Test – This test keeps a track of your body weight, blood sodium and urine concentration after you stop your fluid intake for a specific period of time.

    Other diagnosis methods include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) scans
  • Family medical history
  • Treatment of Diabetes Insipidus

    • Central Diabetes Insipidus can be treated with medications like Desmopressin (DDAVP) or Vasopressin.
    • Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus can be treated using medications like Indomethacin (Indocin) and diuretics like Amiloride (Moduretic 5-50) or Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide).
    • There is no treatment available for Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus. While those suffering from the condition can take the help of ice or candies to increase the saliva flow in the mouth.
    • Since Gestational Diabetes Insipidus occurs only in pregnant women, the condition is treated on its own after the delivery.

    Lifestyle Changes for Diabetes Insipidus

    • The important lifestyle changes one needs to make is to prevent dehydration. Get in touch with your doctor and understand the quantity of water you need to consume in a day.
    • You can also carry a medical card describing your medical condition. The card will help people around you know about your medical condition in case of an emergency.
    • Maintain your body’s electrolyte balance.
    • Keep your mouth moist.
    • Include a nutrient-dense diet in your daily routine. Add water-heavy fruits and vegetables to your daily diet.

    Read More : 10 Warning Signs of being Overweight

    Home Remedies for Diabetes Insipidus

    • Coconut water helps maintain your body’s electrolyte balance and also keeps you hydrated.
    • Ice chips or sour candies increase salivation and help keep your mouth moist.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.



    Fact-checked by

    Nikhil deore

    Written by Nikita · Updated 27/11/2021

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