What is Diabetes Insipidus – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

The question, "What is diabetes insipidus?" may be new to you. Plenty has been written about its relative diabetes mellitus yet diabetes insipidus remains a bit more of a mystery.

To define what is diabetes insipidus you could describe it as “a rare form of diabetes resulting from a deficiency of vasopressin (the pituitary hormone that regulates the kidneys); characterized by the chronic excretion of large amounts of pale dilute urine which results in dehydration and extreme thirst” (1).

What is diabetes insipidus symptom profile?

It is the presence of the large amounts of pale dilute urine that give diabetes insipidus the nickname water diabetes, which distinguishes it from diabetes mellitus which has been referred to as sugar diabetes.

Other symptoms of diabetes insipidus include extreme thirst, urine that is not yellow but is pale and watery, and repeated trips to the bathroom including waking during the night to urinate or uncontrollable bedwetting accidents.

What is diabetes insipidus caused by?

There are 4 types of diabetes insipidus:

Diabetes insipidus is primarily due to genetics, but can also be caused by brain tumors, head trauma, chronic meningitis, multiple sclerosis and hypercalcaemia (excess calcium in the blood).

What is diabetes insipidus treatment option?

Diabetes insipidus treatments will depend on the type of diabetes insipidus diagnosed.

  • Neurogenic (Central) diabetes insipidus responds to medications such as desmopressin (a synthetic replacement for antidiuretic hormone) or carbamazepine (an anti-convulsive medication).
  • In nephrogenic diabetes insipidus the diuretic drug, hydrochlorothiazide or the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, indomethacin may improve the condition.
  • In dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, the medication desmopressin is not an option as it can lead to fluid overload and complicate the condition. Because of this and an inability to correct the underlying thirst issue, this type of diabetes insipidus cannot be completely treated at present.
  • Gestational diabetes insipidus tends to be relieved on its own 4 to 6 weeks after labor. It may develop in subsequent pregnancies. Some woman may find relief with the medication desmopressin.

The best answer to what is diabetes insipidus is that it is a disorder that results in the abnormally high output of watery urine along with an increase in fluid intake and thirst. This condition is rarer than diabetes mellitus.

(1) Audio English (2010). Diabetes insipidus. Retrieved from http://www.audioenglish.net/dictionary/diabetes_insipidus.htm

Learn more about…

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Antidiuretic Hormone – Its Connection to Diabetes Insipidus

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Canine Diabetes Insipidus – Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

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Diabetes Insipidus in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatments

Diabetes insipidus in dogs is a disease that affects how well your dog can regulate its water balance. Recognize the symptoms of diabetes insipidus

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is caused by an insensitivity of the kidneys to antidiuretic hormone. Learn the symptoms & treatment of nephrogenic DI

Neurogenic Diabetes Insipidus – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus, also known as central diabetes insipidus, is the most common type of DI. Learn the causes, symptoms and treatments


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