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?

Diabetes insipidus is a condition that results from insufficient production of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a hormone that helps the kidneys and body conserve the correct amount of water. Normally, the antidiuretic hormone controls the kidneys' output of urine. It is secreted by the hypothalamus (a small gland located at the base of the brain) and stored in the pituitary gland and then released into the bloodstream. ADH is secreted to decrease the amount of urine output so that dehydration does not occur. Diabetes insipidus, however, causes excessive production of very diluted urine and excessive thirst. The disease is categorized into groups. Two of the groups are described below:

  • Central diabetes insipidus. This condition is caused by insufficient production or secretion of ADH; can be a result of damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland caused by head injuries, genetic disorders, 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, or polycystic kidney disease.

Causes of diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus can be caused by several conditions, including the following:

  • Malfunctioning hypothalamus
  • Malfunctioning pituitary gland
  • Damage to hypothalamus or pituitary gland during surgery
  • Brain injury
  • Tumor
  • Tuberculosis
  • Blockage in the arteries leading to the brain
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Sarcoidosis (a rare inflammation of the lymph nodes and other tissues
    throughout the body)

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 physician 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
  • Water deprivation test (to observe if dehydration occurs)

Treatment of diabetes insipidus

Treating diabetes insipidus depends on what is causing the disease. Treating the cause usually treats the diabetes insipidus. Specific treatment for diabetes insipidus will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include modified antidiuretic hormone drugs or drugs to stimulate the production of the antidiuretic hormone.


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