Neurogenic Diabetes Insipidus – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus is also known as central diabetes insipidus and is the most common type of this disease. Symptoms are causes by the lack of a hormone that normally acts upon the kidneys to reduce urine output, this results in symptoms that include excessive urination.

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus causes

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus (DI) is caused by a decrease in the production, storage or delivery of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also know as arginine vasopressin (AVP). This hormone's job is to limit the amount of urine produced by causing less water to be lost through urination.

ADH is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and stored in the pituitary gland until needed. In neurogenic DI, ADH is not available in sufficient amounts.

This lack of ADH " may be caused by damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. This damage may be related to surgery, infection, inflammation, tumor, or injury to the head "(1). In some cases the cause is unknown and in rare cases a genetic defect may be at fault.

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus symptoms

Symptoms of neurogenic DI include:

  • Increased thirst and fluid intake
  • Increased urine production
  • The need to get out of bed frequently during the night to urinate or accidental bedwetting

Neurogenic diabetes insipidus diagnosis and treatment

You should consult with your doctor if any of the symptoms of diabetes insipidus are noticed.

The disease is diagnosed by the following tests:

  • Urinalysis may be performed to determine if signs of neurogenic DI are present such as dilute urine with a low specific gravity or osmolarity.
  • A water restriction test may be performed to reveal how well the kidneys are performing and how much urine is being produced.
  • A CT or MRI of the head may be performed to reveal any problems involving the pituitary gland.

Treatment and outcome will depend on the underlying condition that caused the diabetes insipidus. Many patients can be helped with the prescription of a synthetic hormone called desmopressin, which replaces the lack of natural ADH and helps reduce urine output. This drug is delivered as a nasal spray, oral drug or injection.

In mild cases, increasing water intake may be all that is needed to control the condition. If the thirst mechanism located in the hypothalamus is not working, your doctor may prescribe a daily water intake (usually 2 – 2.5 liters per day) to avoid dehydration.

(1) MedlinePlus (2010). Diabetes insipidus-central. Retrieved from

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