Diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it's the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone. Rarely, diabetes insipidus can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes insipidus).

You may assume diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus — the more common form of diabetes involving blood sugar — are related. Although the disorders share a name and have some common signs, diabetes mellitus (type 1 and type 2) and diabetes insipidus are unrelated.

Treatments are available to relieve your thirst and normalize your urine output.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus are:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Excretion of an excessive amount of diluted urine

Depending on the severity of the condition, urine output can range from 2 quarts (about 2 liters) a day if you have mild diabetes insipidus to 21 quarts (about 20 liters) a day if the condition is severe and if you're drinking a lot of fluids. In comparison, the average urine output for a healthy adult varies, but is in the range of 1.6 to 2.6 quarts (about 1.5 to 2.5 liters) a day.

Other signs may include needing to get up at night to urinate (nocturia) and bed-wetting.

Infants and young children who have diabetes insipidus may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained fussiness or inconsolable crying
  • Unusually wet diapers
  • Fever, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dry skin with cool extremities
  • Delayed growth
  • Weight loss

When to see a doctor

See your doctor immediately if you notice the two most common signs of diabetes insipidus: excessive urination and extreme thirst.

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