Diabetes Insipidus: An Overview

Diabetes Insipidus – An Overview: There are many diabetic types that you may be used to hearing, Type 1, Type 2, gestational and diabetes mellitus. What may be less common and perhaps even misunderstood is a disease known as diabetes insipidus (DI).

This disease is not a branch of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. In most ways they aren’t related. If you are diagnosed with diabetes insipidus you will not need to take insulin and you may not need to worry about sugar intake.

So what is it?
Diabetes insipidus is diagnosed when the body can’t seem to balance fluid intake with urine output. Individuals with this disorder urinate frequently and excessively. The majority of the fluid release is water instead of urine. Patients typically must drink significant amounts of water to balance the loss of fluid through urination. In most cases they can gain some relief through medication.

Three Primary Types – Same Result
Doctors contend with three distinct types of diabetes insipidus and while they all cause frequent urination they are treated differently because the source of complication is unique in each cases.

The National Institute of Health provides the following facts about DI.

  • Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare disease that causes frequent urination and excessive thirst.
  • DI is not related to diabetes mellitus (DM).
  • Central DI is caused by damage to the pituitary gland and is treated with a synthetic hormone called desmopressin, which prevents water excretion.
  • Nephrogenic DI is caused by drugs or kidney disease and is treated with hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), indomethacin, or a combination of HCTZ and amiloride.
  • Most forms of gestational DI can be treated with desmopressin.
  • A doctor must determine which type of DI is involved before proper treatment can begin.

It should be noted that there is such a thing as gestational diabetes insipidus and it affects about 1 in every 25,000 pregnancies. Like other cases of diabetes insipidus it is treated with a balance of water intake to urine output along with medication.

Doctors must conduct a urinalysis to determine if a patient may be suffering from diabetes insipidus. This also allows them to determine which disease type they may have. The diagnosis is important in implementing a treatment plan that works for the patient.

Another diagnostic tool is a fluid deprivation test. This can help doctors determine the best treatment option following testing of the primary causes for DI.

The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation provides a list of symptoms that may be associated with the disorder.


  • Increased thirst
  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Bed-wetting
  • Getting up at night to urinate

The Universal and Variable Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus occur:


  • In the absence of high blood and/or urine sugar
  • Are sometimes associated with various other symptoms due to concomitant damage to other hormones or organs

Sodium and DI
The role of sodium can be critical to those suffering with DI. With this disease too much sodium can result in dehydration. This can throw off the delicate balance of water intake compared to urine output. In some cases medical intervention will be required.

Good News
The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation indicates that unlike diabetes mellitus this disorder is not a progressive disease. What that means is if you are diagnosed with DI it is usually treated without additional complications. Most DI suffers lead a normal life in all other ways.