Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Central (Neurogenic) Diabetes Insipidus

Central diabetes insipidus or central DI has several other names it's known by -- "pituitary DI," "hypothalamic DI," "neurohypophyseal DI," or "neurogenic DI." The disease is completely unrelated to diabetes mellitus, even though both display the common symptoms of increased urination and thirst. Central DI is less common than diabetes mellitus, and treatments for the two diseases are completely different. Diabetes insipidus received its name as the frequent urination resembled that of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

The major characteristic of central diabetes insipidus is extreme thirst and excessive urination. The disease occurs when the body fails to produce enough of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which regulates the output of urine from the kidneys. The deficit of vasopressin typically is caused by damage or injury to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. The damage is usually caused by infections, inflammation, head injuries, tumors, surgery, or genetic defects.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Diabetes-Friendly Summer Grill Recipes

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, WebMD's director of nutrition, created this delicious and colorful meal of grilled salmon with black bean corn salsa and salad. It's a low-calorie lunch or dinner that is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The balance of complex carbs, protein, and good fats makes it diabetes-friendly, too. Southwestern Grilled Salmon Makes 4 servings Ingredients cooking spray 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp chili powder dash of salt freshly...

Read the Diabetes-Friendly Summer Grill Recipes article > >

What Is Central (Neurogenic) Diabetes Insipidus?

Central diabetes insipidus is caused by a lack of the hormone vasopressin. Vasopressin is an antidiuretic hormone that is produced by the hypothalamus gland in the brain and stored by the pituitary gland. In the body, vasopressin limits urine output by increasing the concentration of the urine.

Without vasopressin, the kidneys cannot function properly and the body experiences rapid water loss in the form of diluted urine. Then in a vicious cycle, this rapid water loss causes people with central DI to become extremely thirsty. As a result, they drink large amounts of water. For example, someone with central diabetes insipidus may produce more than 3 liters of urine a day, and drink even more water than that.

Central DI affects both men and women equally. It is a relatively uncommon disease, occurring in about one out of every 25,000 people. Central diabetes insipidus is typically a manageable disease and not fatal. However, if the fluids that are lost due to central DI aren't replaced, severe dehydration, heart failure, and even death can occur. This is especially the case with children and the elderly.

What Causes Central Diabetes Insipidus?

In about half the cases, the cause of central DI is unknown. Other times, the reduced levels of vasopressin may be the result of damage to the hypothalamus or the posterior part of the pituitary gland where the hormone is normally produced. This damage can be due to surgery, head trauma, tumor, inflammation, or infection. In very rare cases, central DI is caused by a genetic defect. Doctors determine that the disease is inheritable when the onset occurs in early childhood and there is a family history of central DI.

Usually, central DI cannot be prevented. The risk of developing central DI can be reduced, though, by prompt treatment of injuries, infections, and tumors.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article