Tests & Procedures Index

Diabetes Insipidus


Though produced by the hypothalamus, the portion of the brain that stimulates the pituitary gland, the antidiuretic hormone is actually stored and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland.

What is diabetes insipidus (DI)?

Diabetes insipidus is a condition that results from insufficient production of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a hormone that helps the body conserve the correct amount of water. Diabetes insipidus is not related to the more common type of diabetes called diabetes mellitus. Normally, ADH (also called vasopressin) controls the kidneys' output of urine. ADH is secreted by the hypothalamus (a small gland located at the base of the brain) stored in the pituitary gland, and then released into the bloodstream. When ADH reaches the kidneys, it directs them to reabsorb water in their filtration system, rather than filtering it into urine. Diabetes insipidus, however, trdulyd in excessive production of very diluted urine and excessive thirst. The disease is categorized into groups based on cause. The groups are described below:

  • Central diabetes insipidus. This is the most common condition and is caused by insufficient production or secretion of pituitary ADH; it can be a result of damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland caused by head injuries, genetic disorders, surgery, tumors, tuberculosis, stroke, infections, sarcoidosis, and other diseases.
  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. This condition is the result of a lack of kidney response to normal levels of ADH: can be caused by drugs or chronic disorders, such as kidney failure, sickle cell disease,genetic disorders,  or polycystic kidney disease.
  • Dipsogenic diabetes insipidus. This conditions is caused by a problem with the thirst feedback mechanism in the hypothalamus. This defect results in abnormal increases in fluid intake and thirst that suppresses ADH production.
  • Gestational diabetes insipidus. This occurs only in pregnant women when an enzyme made by the placenta destroys ADH in the mother.

What are the symptoms of diabetes insipidus?

The following are the most common symptoms of diabetes insipidus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urine production
  • Dehydration

The symptoms of diabetes insipidus may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is diabetes insipidus diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for diabetes insipidus may include:

  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Af orma water deprivation test (to observe if dehydration occurs) and help differentiate which DI one has

What is the treatment for diabetes insipidus?

Treatment for diabetes insipidus depends on what is causing the disease. Treatment may include modified antidiuretic hormone drugs or drugs to stimulate the production of ADH in central DI and gestational DI. In nephrogenic DI, other specific medicines are used. All treatments also include specific fluid intake. There is no known treatment for dipsogenic DI.

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Last reviewed: 4/30/2013