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Diabetes Insipidus

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 – insufficient production or secretion of ADH; can be a result of damage to the pituitary gland caused by head injuries, genetic disorders, and other diseases.
  • nephrogenic diabetes insipidus – 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)
Treatment of diabetes insipidus:

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

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • the 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.