Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it's the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus (DI) can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone. Rarely, diabetes insipidus can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes insipidus).
You may assume diabetes insipidus is related to what's commonly known as "sugar" diabetes, or diabetes mellitus. While the disorders share a name and have some common signs, diabetes mellitus (type 1 and type 2) and diabetes insipidus are unrelated.
Treatments are available to relieve your thirst and normalize your urine output.
The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus are:
Depending on the severity of the condition, urine output can range from 2.6 quarts (about 2.5 liters) a day if you have mild diabetes insipidus to 16 quarts (about 15 liters) a day if the condition is severe and if you're taking in a lot of fluids. In comparison, the average urine output for a healthy adult is in the range of 1.6 to 2.6 quarts (about 1.5 to 2.5 liters) a day.
Other signs may include needing to get up at night to urinate (nocturia) and bed-wetting.
Infants and young children who have diabetes insipidus may have the following signs and symptoms:
When to see a doctor
Diabetes insipidus occurs when your body can't regulate how it handles fluids. Normally, your kidneys remove excess body fluids from your bloodstream. This fluid waste is temporarily stored in your bladder as urine, before you urinate. When your fluid regulation system is working properly, your kidneys make less urine when your body water is decreased, such as through perspiration, to conserve fluid.
The volume and composition of your body fluids remain balanced through a combination of oral intake and excretion by the kidneys. The rate of fluid intake is largely governed by thirst, although your habits can increase your intake far above the amount necessary. The rate of fluid excreted by your kidneys is greatly influenced by the production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin.
Your body makes ADH in the hypothalamus and stores the hormone in your pituitary gland, a small gland located in the base of your brain. ADH is released into your bloodstream when necessary. ADH then concentrates the urine by triggering the kidney tubules to reabsorb water back into your bloodstream rather than excreting as much water into your urine.
The way in which your system is disrupted determines which form of diabetes insipidus you have:
In some cases of diabetes insipidus, doctors never determine a cause.
Female urinary system
Your bladder stores urine produced by your kidneys and expels it through a tube called the urethra. In women, the urethral opening is above the vagina. ...
Male urinary system
Your bladder stores urine produced by your kidneys and expels it through a tube called the urethra. In men, the urethral opening is at the tip of the penis. ...
Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus that's present at or shortly after birth usually has a genetic cause that permanently alters the kidneys' ability to concentrate the urine. Nephrogenic DI usually affects males, though women can pass the gene on to their children.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
For diabetes insipidus, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask questions at any time during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
Since the signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus can be caused by other conditions, your doctor will perform a number of tests. If your doctor determines you have diabetes insipidus, he or she will need to determine which type of diabetes insipidus you have, because the treatment is different for each form of the disease.
Some of the tests doctors commonly use to determine the type of diabetes insipidus and in some cases, its cause, include:
Treatments and drugs
Treatment of diabetes insipidus depends on what form of the condition you have. Treatment options for the most common types of diabetes insipidus include:
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you have diabetes insipidus:
Last Updated: 2010-09-02
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