In this post, we are taking a look at a rear type of disease that affects the kidneys. While there is no known cure for this disease, there are medicines that can help to manage the symptoms.
What Is Diabetes Insipidus?
Diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that causes your body to make a lot of urine that is “insipid,” or colorless, and odorless. Most people pee out 1 to 2 quarts a day. People with diabetes insipidus can pass between 3 and 20 quarts a day.
Diabetes insipidus is a different disease from diabetes mellitus. These two diseases names may be similar, but the only things they have in common is that they make you thirsty and make you pee a lot.
If you have diabetes insipidus, the hormones that help your body balance liquids don’t work. It is a very rear disease. Only one in every 25,000 people gets this condition.
With diabetes mellitus (often shortened to “diabetes”), your body can’t use energy from food as it should. It’s far more common. Around 100 million Americans have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus
- Severe thirst
- Peeing a lot (your doctor might call this polyuria)
- Getting up to go a lot at night
- Preference for cold drinks
- Muscle pains
Dehydration is another symptom. You might notice:
- Feeling sluggish
Symptoms in Infants and Children
Many of the symptoms are similar to younger people. In infants, watch for:
- Slow growth
- Poor feeding
In children, signs include:
- Drinking a lot of water
- Peeing often, sometimes every hour
- New bedwetting or waking during the night to pee
The types of diabetes insipidus.
The types of diabetes insipidus include
Diabetes insipidus occurs when your body can’t properly balance the body’s fluid levels.
When your fluid regulation system is working properly, your kidneys help maintain this balance. The kidneys remove fluids from your bloodstream. This fluid waste is temporarily stored in your bladder as urine until you urinate. The body can also rid itself of excess fluids through sweating, breathing, or diarrhea.
A hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), or vasopressin, helps control how fast or slow fluids are excreted. ADH is made in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland, a small gland found in the base of the brain.
If you have diabetes insipidus, your body can’t properly balance fluid levels. The cause 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 respond to ADH appropriately.
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 occurs only during pregnancy when an enzyme made by the placenta destroys ADH in the mother.
Primary polydipsia. Also known as dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, this condition 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 linked to mental illness, such as schizophrenia.
Sometimes, there’s no known cause of diabetes insipidus. However, in some people, the disorder may be the result of an autoimmune reaction that causes the immune system to damage the cells that make vasopressin.
Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus that is present at or shortly after birth is usually an inherited (genetic) condition that permanently changes the kidneys’ ability to concentrate the urine. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus usually affects males, though women can pass the gene on to their children.
Diabetes insipidus may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in skin elasticity
Diabetes insipidus can cause 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:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps
A health care provider can diagnose a person with diabetes insipidus based on the following:
- medical and family history
- physical exam
- blood tests
- fluid deprivation test
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How is diabetes insipidus treated?
The primary treatment for diabetes insipidus involves drinking enough liquid to prevent dehydration. A health care provider may refer a person with diabetes insipidus to a nephrologist—(a doctor who specializes in treating kidney problems)—or to an endocrinologist—(a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the hormone-producing glands). Treatment for frequent urination or constant thirst depends on the patient’s type of diabetes insipidus:
Researchers have not found that eating, diet, and nutrition play a role in causing or preventing diabetes insipidus.
Can diabetes insipidus be prevented or avoided?
Unfortunately, in most cases, diabetes insipidus is a permanent condition. You likely won’t be able to prevent it.
This condition is more often associated with another health problem. It can be associated with abnormal kidney function or tumors.
Even though you can’t prevent it in these cases, you can often manage the symptoms.
Living with diabetes insipidus
There is no cure for diabetes insipidus. But you can work with your doctor to manage the symptoms of this condition.
Medicine can help prevent constant thirst and excessive urination that comes with this condition. Preventing these symptoms will add a great deal to your quality of life.
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