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Diabetes Insipidus: Symptoms, and Complications


Diabetes insipidus (DI)  is an unusual complication that causes an imbalance of fluids in the body. This imbalance is a condition that causes your kidney not to conserve water.

Obviously, DI is not related to diabetes mellitus, which is often referred to simply as diabetes. Diabetes mellitus can occur as type 1 or type 2, however is the more common form of diabetes.

However, there’s no remedy for diabetes insipidus. Though medications can ease your thirst and decrease your urine output

Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus

Signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus include:

  • Producing large amounts of diluted urine
  • Frequent need to get up to urinate during the night
  • Extreme thirst
  • Preference for cold drinks

Notably, if your condition is severe, urine output can be as much as 20 quarts (about 19 liters) a day if you’re absorbing a lot of fluids. A normal adult urinates an average of 1 or 2 quarts (about 1 to 2 liters) a day.

An infant or young child with diabetes insipidus may have the following signs and symptoms:

When to see your doctor

See your doctor immediately if you notice excessive urination and extreme thirst.


Diabetes insipidus happens when the body can’t correctly balance the body’s fluid levels.

If your fluid control system is working accurately, your kidneys maintain this balance. The kidneys eliminate fluids from your bloodstream. This fluid waste is stored in your bladder as urine until you urinate. The body can further rid itself of excess fluids through sweating, breathing, or diarrhea.

A hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), or vasopressin, aids regulates how fast or slow fluids are discharged. ADH is produced in a part of the brain named the hypothalamus and deposited in the pituitary gland, a small gland discovered in the base of the brain.

If you have diabetes insipidus, your body can’t accurately balance fluid levels. The situation varies depending on the type of diabetes insipidus you have:

  • Central diabetes insipidus: Damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus from surgery, a tumor, a head injury, or an illness can cause central diabetes insipidus by affecting the usual production, storage, and release of ADH. An inherited genetic disease can also cause this condition.
  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus occurs when there’s a defect in the kidney tubules — the structures in your kidneys that cause water to be excreted or reabsorbed. This defect makes your kidneys unable to properly respond to ADH.

    The defect may be due to an inherited (genetic) disorder or a chronic kidney disorder. Certain drugs, such as lithium or antiviral medications such as foscarnet (Foscavir), also can cause nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

  • Gestational diabetes insipidus. Gestational diabetes insipidus is rare. It happens only during pregnancy when an enzyme made by the placenta destroys ADH in the mother.
  • Primary polydipsia. Also identified as dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, this situation can cause the production of large amounts of diluted urine. The underlying cause is drinking an excessive amount of fluids.

    Primary polydipsia can be caused by damage to the thirst-regulating mechanism in the hypothalamus. The condition has also been connected to mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

More so, there’s no cause of diabetes insipidus. Nevertheless, in some people, the dysfunction may be the result of an autoimmune reaction that affects the immune system to damage the cells that make vasopressin.



Diabetes insipidus may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause:

  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in skin elasticity
  • Thirst
  • Fatigue

Electrolyte imbalance

Diabetes insipidus can generate an imbalance in electrolytes minerals in your blood, such as sodium and potassium, that maintain the fluid balance in your body.

Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance may include:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  1. Fidelis Chinedu says

    This is great!
    And I think it’s safe to say that articles like this can guarantee safe self medication/health care.

    Well done!

    1. Lucy Perpetua says


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