With diabetes insipidus, the body loses too much fluid. This is because there is too little antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in the body. This hormone is made in the brain. ADH causes the kidneys to retain water. With diabetes insipidus, the kidneys let water through all the time. As a result, people have to urinate a lot and can become dehydrated.
Diabetes insipidus as an illness has nothing to do with diabetes (diabetes mellitus). But the characteristics of thirst and a lot of urination are similar. That is why doctors sometimes think of diabetes insipidus first, when someone actually has diabetes insipidus.
People with diabetes insipidus can urinate up to 15 liters more per day than usual. As a result, they are always thirsty and have to drink a lot to avoid dehydration. If someone with diabetes insipidus becomes dehydrated, they can have a high heart rate. A person can also get low blood pressure. Some people become confused or drowsy. Furthermore, blockage (constipation) of the intestines can occur.
Diabetes insipidus can be congenital, but can also develop later in life. For example due to a tumor or brain surgery or as a characteristic of another disease or syndrome. Diabetes insipidus can occur at any age.
There are four types of diabetes insipidus:
Neurogenic diabetes insipidus: This form is also called central diabetes insipidus. It occurs when the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain) does not work properly. As a result, too little ADH enters the body. This causes the kidneys to make too much urine. For example, a tumor, brain surgery, head injury or infections can prevent the pituitary gland from working properly. This form can also be innate, the cause is then a change in the DNA.
Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: This form arises because the kidneys do not respond to ADH. That’s why the kidneys make too much urine. This form is usually hereditary. But drugs or kidney disease can also lead to this form.
Gestagene diabetes insipidus:
This form only occurs during pregnancy. It usually goes away after delivery. It may come back if the woman becomes pregnant again. Gestational diabetes insipidus is different from gestational diabetes.
Dipsogene diabetes insipidus:
This form arises because something is wrong in the part of the brain that signals the body when it needs extra fluid. Then someone gets very thirsty and someone starts to drink way too much. That’s why the kidneys start to make more urine. This form can arise from, for example, a tumor, brain surgery, head injury, infections or medicines.