What is Diabetes Insipidus? Its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Talk of diabetes and most of us can only think of diabetes mellitus which is caused when either the body is not producing enough insulin or the insulin so produced is not utilized effectively by the body. Diabetes mellitus is sort of synonymous to the very meaning of diabetes given its popularity and complications. However, not many people know about diabetes insipidus.

Diabetes insipidus is a rare disease which is characterized by the patient feeling extremely thirsty and as a result, there is a greater need for urination. Although these symptoms can be experienced in diabetes mellitus as well, there is no increase in the levels of blood glucose or blood sugar in this case which makes the disease different from diabetes mellitus that we all know about.

In this article, we shall analyze, deep dive, and find out more about diabetes insipidus, the symptoms, causes, and subsequent treatment of diabetes insipidus. So, join in for the article “What is Diabetes Insipidus? It’s Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.

Table of Contents

What is the Meaning of Diabetes Insipidus?

Diabetes insipidus is very different from diabetes mellitus. When we talk about diabetes, we are actually referring to diabetes mellitus in which our body experiences elevated levels of blood glucose or blood sugar. However, diabetes insipidus is a condition in which the patient experiences excessive thirst and as a result, the need for urination also increases. Hence this is a condition caused when the body has problems either in the pituitary gland or the kidneys.

Diabetes Insipidus

Hence, Diabetes insipidus is a rare condition which affects the kidneys of the patient’s body by making the patient urinate large volumes of urine that are insipid meaning odorless. The major problem that occurs with this condition is the problem of dehydration, leading to a few other complications.

Difference Between Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetes Insipidus?

When we talk about diabetes, we are essentially referring to diabetes mellitus. However, there are differences between the two terms diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus which we ought to know. Following are a few of them:

  • Although major symptoms of both these conditions are increased thirst and urination, the very cause of the problem is different. While diabetes mellitus is caused when the body is not able to produce enough insulin or the insulin so produced is not working efficiently, diabetes insipidus is caused when our kidneys are not responding appropriately to the hormone, vasopressin. It might also occur when the gland responsible for the production of the hormone, hypothalamus has been disrupted for some reason.
  • While diabetes mellitus is of two major types: type 1 and type 2, the major types of diabetes insipidus are central diabetes insipidus and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus amongst others.
  • The major complication of diabetes mellitus is the high level of blood glucose, the major complication of diabetes insipidus is dehydration caused due to loss of fluids.

How Do You Get Diagnosed for Diabetes Insipidus?

The condition gets diagnosed when the doctor checks the following and find that the body is not working as it should:

  • Blood tests to ensure that the pituitary gland is working properly.
  • Urine tests to see the possible effects.
  • Sometimes, doctors can also conduct an MRI of the head to check the functioning of the pituitary gland.
  • There are several types of genetic tests that are ordered by the doctors too.
  • Finally, in order to check the functioning of the kidney, the doctor recommends fluid deprivation test. In this test, the doctor sees and monitors the urination caused in the patient after he or she has not been drinking water for a while or any fluids.

Types of Diabetes Insipidus

Following are the different types of diabetes insipidus:

Central Diabetes Insipidus: The most common type of diabetes insipidus is the central diabetes insipidus. The main reason for this condition is that the pituitary gland of the patient is damaged. As a result of this damage, the production and release of vasopressin are hindered. This, in turn, makes the kidney to get rid of a lot of fluids leading to frequent urination in the patient. The pituitary gland can be damaged due to any of the following reasons:

  • Infection
  • Surgery
  • Tumor
  • Injury in the head
  • Some kind of inflammation

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus: This is a condition which happens when the kidney is not functioning efficiently. The kidney is not responding appropriately to the vasopressin and as a result, too much fluid is removed from the patients’ body.

Gestational Diabetes Insipidus: As is clear from the name, this condition is caused at the time of pregnancy in women. This condition often goes away after the mothers’ delivery but there are high chances of it returning if the mother gets pregnant again.

Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus: The hypothalamus of the body consists of a thirst mechanism. When there is a problem in that, this condition is caused. Due to such a condition, the patient experiences increase in thirst as well as urination. There are several reasons causing the same as we will see in the subsequent paragraphs.

What are the Causes of Diabetes Insipidus?

Having known the types, we are in a better position to understand what causes the different types of diabetes insipidus. But before that, we need to understand the mechanism of fluid regulation in our body.

Fluid Regulation in the Body: It is a known fact that for balancing the total amount of fluid that we consume, our body stores the required amount of fluid and all the extra fluid is removed. It is through thirst that we intake the required fluid while the ways of removing it include urination, diarrhea, breathing, as well as through sweating. The hormone responsible for getting rid of the extra fluid through urination is called vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH).This important hormone is produced by the gland hypothalamus. The pituitary gland plays the role of storing the vasopressin so produced. When the body experiences a low level of fluid, the hormone is released into the blood signaling the kidney to absorb less fluid thereby leading to less urination. On the other hand, when the body has more fluid in the blood, lesser amounts of vasopressin are released by the gland resulting in increased urination.

This is how fluid is regulated in a normal, healthy person. When a person suffers from diabetes insipidus, the pituitary gland, the vasopressin, and the hypothalamus do not function efficiently.

Let us see the causes if each type of diabetes insipidus:

Central Diabetes Insipidus

The cause of this condition could be damage tothe hypothalamus or the pituitary gland due to:

  • Infection
  • Surgery
  • Tumor
  • Injury in the head
  • Some kind of inflammation

Besides, this condition can also be caused due to genetic factors.

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

As seen above, in this condition the kidney does not respond appropriately to vasopressin due to:

  • Some kind of kidney disorder or disease
  • Low levels of potassium
  • High levels of calcium
  • As a result of a few medicines
  • Blockage caused in the urinary tract of the patient concerned

Gestational Diabetes Insipidus

Causes of this type could be:

  • The breakage to the mothers’ vasopressin by an enzyme that is made by the temporary organ, placenta.
  • Propagandist produced by the expecting mother which reduces the manner in which our kidneys respond to vasopressin

Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus

The causes of this condition are the same as that of central diabetes insipidus which has been discussed above.

Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus

As we now know, diabetes insipidus is a condition leading to a patient feeling very thirsty as well as increasing the need for urination. As such, the symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst due to the reasons explained above.
  • Increased urination, also known as polyuria.
  • Increased fatigue and weakness as the body gets rid of so much fluid
  • Lot of muscle pain
  • Tendency to get irritated very easily
  • Sometimes the condition can also cause the skin to get dry.

How is Diabetes Insipidus Treated?

The treatment of different types of diabetes insipidus are as follows:

Central Diabetes Insipidus

  • In this case, the common treatment involves administering a man-made hormone known as desmopressin. The hormone can be injected into the patient’s body by either using injection, as a pill or even as a nasal spray. Desmopressin helps by replacing the vasopressin hormone.
  • Besides, in a few other cases, doctors recommend drinking a lot of water in order to treat the condition.

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

  • By maintaining the balance of potassium and calcium in the body through various medicines and drugs.
  • Eating a low sodium diet.
  • Few doctors prescribe the anti-inflammatory medicines such as indomethacin, amongst others.
  • Also, doctors recommend consumption of fluids as needed by the patient’s body
  • Using diuretics combined with aspirin or even ibuprofen

Gestational Diabetes Insipidus:

Like in the case of central diabetes insipidus, in this case too, desmopressin is administered either through injectionsor through pills.

Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus:

There has been no defined and proven treatment for this type of diabetes insipidus. However, a few steps that can be taken include:

  • Suck candies to produce more saliva.
  • A small dose of the hormone, desmopressin while sleeping to avoid too much urination at night.
  • Finally, diet to control the levels of sodium can help in a few cases.

Besides, like in the case of diabetes mellitus, diet and nutrition play an important role in the treatment of diabetes insipidus.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in educating you and improving your knowledge about diabetes insipidus which is not known to many people. Although rare, the disease is very difficult to manage to cause excessive dehydration, which, in turn, leads to a lot of complications in the human body.

However, the disease is not all that deadly and will not lead to kidney failure or make you dependent on dialysis. Having said that, you cannot ignore the disease altogether because the extreme dehydration that is caused as a result of this condition could, in some cases, lead to strokes and other kinds of disorder. Hence, you need to be really careful with the disease. Do go and see the doctor if you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms!!

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