Diabetes insipidus

Book an Appointment


Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare condition that occurs when your kidneys are unable to conserve water. It results in extreme thirst and frequent urination of insipid, or dilute and odorless, urine.

A healthy adult will typically urinate between 1 and 3 quarts (946.4 milliliters to 2.84 liters)Trusted Source of urine a day. People with diabetes insipidus may eliminate as many as 20 quarts (18.9 liters) of urine daily.

There are several types of diabetes insipidus, and they can often be treated successfully. Keep reading to learn more about this condition.


The main symptoms of diabetes insipidus are:

excessive thirst (polydipsia), which can cause an uncontrollable craving for water

excessive urine volume, which can cause you to wet the bed or to get up during the night to urinate frequently

Possible symptoms in infants and young children include:

excessive thirst

unusually wet diapers, bedwetting, or excessive urine output

fussiness and irritability


high fever

dry skin

delayed growth

Adults can experience some of the above symptoms, plus:




Diabetes insipidus can also cause severe dehydration, which can lead to seizures, brain damage, and even death if left untreated.


Diabetes insipidus can occur when any part of the system that regulates fluid in your body breaks down. It’s closely associated with low levels of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also known as vasopressin. ADH levels affect how well your kidneys conserve water.

To understand diabetes insipidus, it helps to understand how your body normally uses and regulates fluids.

Fluids make up around 50 to 60 percent of an adult’s overall body mass and around 75 percent of an infant’s, according to StatPearls.

Maintaining the proper amount of fluid in your body is key to your overall health. Consuming water and food throughout the day helps provide fluid to your body. Urinating, breathing, and sweating help eliminate fluid from your body.

Your body uses a system of organs and hormone signals to regulate body fluids. It makes less urine when you need to replace fluid lost to sweating and makes more urine when there’s too much fluid in your body.

In addition:

The kidneys play an important role in fluid regulation by removing extra fluid from your bloodstream.

The bladder stores the fluid waste until you urinate it out.

The brain produces ADH, which is stored in the pituitary gland after production.

The hypothalamus is the specific area of the brain where ADH is made. The hypothalamus regulates thirst.

When your body needs to retain water, the pituitary gland will release ADH into the bloodstream.

When you need to get rid of water, ADH is either released in smaller amounts or not released at all, and you’ll urinate more often.

Risk factors

The following are some of the common risk factors associated with the development of diabetes insipidus:


Polycystic kidney disease.

Pituitary disorders.

Hypothalamic injury.


Head tumors.


Sickle cell disease.

Calendar Schedule

Have a medical question?

We are available to help you with all your questions and concerns.


Diabetes insipidus may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause:

Dry mouth

Changes in skin elasticity



Electrolyte imbalance

Diabetes insipidus can cause an imbalance in minerals in your blood, such as sodium and potassium (electrolytes), that maintain the fluid balance in your body. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance may include:




Loss of appetite

Muscle cramps



Prevent dehydration. As long as you take your medication and have access to water when the medication's effects wear off, you'll prevent serious problems. ...

Wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a medical alert card in your wallet.Most of the time, diabetes insipidus is a permanent condition. You likely won't be able to prevent it. It is often associated with another health problem, such as abnormal kidney function or tumors.