Diabetes Insipidus

Also known as: DI

What is diabetes insipidus?

Normally the kidneys filter salts/waste material and water (which will become urine) that flow to them via the bloodstream. Overall water loss is reduced by the action of a hormone (antidiuretic hormone/ADH or vasopressin) which acts on the kidneys and regulates the amount of water excreted so that the body’s water balance is maintained. ADH is secreted by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, stored in the pituitary gland in the brain and then released into the bloodstream.

Diabetes insipidus, occurs when either too little ADH is produced (the commonest form) due to damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland (Central diabetes insipidus from brain malformation, some genetic diseases, tumors, trauma, inflammatory disease like encephalitis, meningitis, or other infections plus others), or because of an abnormality in the kidneys which prevents them from responding to the ADH that reaches them (Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus from kidney disease, genetic disorders, some medications and high levels of calcium in the body). Sometimes, in both forms of DI no cause is found.

What are the symptoms of diabetes insipidus?

Common symptoms of diabetes insipidus include extreme thirst, frequent urination, dehydration and new onset bedwetting. In infants additional symptoms may be fever, poor feeding and failure to grow.

What are diabetes insipidus care options?

Treatment for diabetes insipidus varies depending on the cause. For Central diabetes insipidus, treatments include administration of a synthetic antidiuretic-like medication (like DDAVP or desmopressin) with a diuretic and changes in fluids/salts administered, while management of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus includes stopping a problem medication and/or modifying fluid/salt intake.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 09, 2020 11:21 AM

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