Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder that prevents the kidneys from retaining water. The natural function of the kidneys is to process blood and filter out liquid waste, which the body later eliminates through urination. This function is controlled by a hormone called ADH. Diabetes insipidus occurs when the dispersion of this hormone is interrupted or when the kidney’s no longer respond to it.
The two most common types of diabetes insipidus are known as central diabetes insipidus and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Central diabetes insipidus occurs when sufficient levels of ADH are no longer produced by the brain, while nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is characterized by a lack of response to the hormone. Gestational diabetes insipidus, which occurs during pregnancy, and dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, which is the result of an individual drinking an excessive amount of fluid, are seen less often.
Most cases of diabetes insipidus are believed to be the result of damage to the pituitary or hypothalamus gland. This damage may be caused by an infection, head injury, surgical procedure or abnormal growth, such as a tumor. The condition may also be hereditary or a side effect of certain medications.
Symptoms of diabetes insipidus include extreme thirst, dehydration and an excessive amount of urine production. Infants and young children who suffer from the disorder may also experience fever, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and delayed growth.
Diabetes insipidus is diagnosed through a variety of means. A medical history is taken, followed by a thorough physical exam. A urinalysis, or close examination of the urine, will be performed, and urine volume may also be monitored. If your physician believes that diabetes insipidus is a likely diagnosis, an MRI of the head will be performed to examine the area of the brain responsible for producing ADH.
Patients suffering from central diabetes insipidus are usually given a synthetic hormone that restores the kidney’s natural function. In other cases the condition is controlled by closely monitoring water intake to prevent dehydration and by choosing a low sodium diet. Diuretics may be prescribed for those with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus because the medication tends to reduce urine output.
Diabetes insipidus not only affects daily life, but can lead to extreme dehydration. Make an appointment with your doctor promptly if you experience any of the symptoms of this disorder so that treatment can be started before the condition becomes severe.