Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus – Recognize the Warning Signs

The symptoms of diabetes insipidus define the disease. Its name is derived from the excessive volume of urine that is excreted. This urine is much diluted or watery leaving it tasteless, or "insipid", rather than sweet, as is seen in diabetes mellitus, in which sugar spills into the urine.

The frequent urination, which is the hallmark symptom of diabetes insipidus, has resulted in this disorder being referred to as "water diabetes."

Diabetes insipidus is divided into 4 types and each type has a different cause but similar symptoms. The most common type, neurogenic diabetes insipidus, is caused by a lack of antidiuretic hormone (a.k.a. vasopressin), which normally acts upon the kidneys to reduce urination.

The second most common type, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, is due to the improper response of the kidneys to antidiuretic hormone.

Other types of diabetes insipidus may result due to a defect or damage to the thirst mechanism located in the hypothalamus or as a complication of pregnancy.

The symptoms of diabetes insipidus are similar for all types and include:

  1. Increased thirst
  2. Increased fluid intake or drinking
  3. Increased urination
  4. Bedwetting or the need to frequently get out of bed during the night to urinate

These symptoms of diabetes insipidus (DI) will be seen in the absence of high blood sugar and this fact is used to differentiate the condition from diabetes mellitus.

"In children, DI can interfere with appetite, eating, weight gain, and growth as well. They may present with fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Adults with untreated DI may remain healthy for decades as long as enough water is consumed to offset the urinary losses. However, there is a continuous risk of dehydration and loss of potassium"(1).

You should consult with your doctor immediately if you notice any of the symptoms of diabetes insipidus.

If your doctor agrees that you have symptoms of diabetes insipidus, then he or she will perform a number of tests to confirm the diagnosis and additional tests to determine the type of diabetes insipidus you have, which will determine the course of treatment.

Your doctor may perform a urinalysis test to determine if your urine is less concentrated (meaning you are excreting more water and fewer salt and waste products) as this is a sign of diabetes insipidus.

(1) Wikipedia (2010). Diabetes insipidus. Retrieved from


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