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What Is Diabetes Insipidus?

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How Is Diabetes Insipidus Diagnosed?

People with diabetes insipidus often seek medical attention because of their symptoms of excessive thirst and urination.

Diagnosing diabetes insipidus requires a series of blood and urine measurements in a doctor's office over several hours. The person goes without water during this time and gets progressively thirstier. The concentrations of sodium in the blood and urine are determined over time. An ADH substitute might then be administered to see if the person's kidneys respond to it by concentrating the urine. The laboratory values and response to ADH are used to make the diagnosis.

How Is Diabetes Insipidus Treated?

The most important part of treatment for diabetes insipidus is to drink plenty of fluids. That will replace the constant loss of water through the urine.

In central diabetes insipidus, the missing ADH can be replaced using the medication vasopressin (desmopressin or DDAVP). This is often taken as a nasal spray. You can also take it orally in a different form. There are other therapies available too that help enhance the action of ADH.

Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is caused by the decreased ability of the kidneys to respond to ADH. It can be harder to treat. If nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is caused by a drug, stopping the medicine can reduce the amount of urine in people with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Other medicines may improve the symptoms of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. They include indomethacin (Indocin) and, surprisingly, diuretics (hydrochlorothiazide or amiloride).

How Serious Is Diabetes Insipidus?

Diabetes insipidus does not cause kidney failure or lead to dialysis. The kidneys still do their main job of filtering the blood.

However, people with diabetes insipidus are prone to dehydration. They need to ensure constant access to drinkable fluids. Typical athletic activities and exercise are safe and promote health. But they require more fluid replacement than usual, especially in the heat.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 03, 2014
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