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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases Arrow to Diabetes InformationDiabetes Arrow to Diabetes InsipidusDiabetes Insipidus (DI)

Most people are familiar with the most common types of diabetes related to the body's processing of sugars. Few know about diabetes insipidus or "water diabetes."

While the common forms of diabetes are caused by insulin deficiency or resistance, this rare form of diabetes is caused by deficiency or resistance to the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin.

Vasopressin is produced by the hypothalamus, a very small gland located in the base of the brain. After it is produced, the body stores the ADH in the pituitary gland. ADH is released into the bloodstream when the amount of water in the body needs to be increased.

The kidneys filter your blood. They remove excess water and other elements from your blood and return the filtered blood back to the body. When ADH reaches the kidneys, it signals them to increase the amount of water that they return to the bloodstream.

DI occurs when this precise system for regulating the amount of fluids in the body is disrupted. Central Diabetes Insipidus, the most common form of DI, results from damage to the pituitary gland. This disrupts the normal storage and release of ADH.

Nephrogenic DI, results when the kidneys lose their ability to respond to ADH. Rarer forms occur because of a defect in the thirst mechanism (dipsogenic DI) or during pregnancy (gestational diabetes insipidus).

Even if untreated, DI is not normally life threatening unless you get into a situation where you cannot get an adequate supply of drinkable water. DI does cause abnormal thirst and frequent urination which can lead to depleting nutrients that your body needs to function well.

Diet in this form of diabetes concentrates on reducing or eliminating salt instead of sugar and starches with insulin based diabetes.

Central DI can be controlled by using drugs such as desmopressin which take the place of the ADH that the hypothalamus or pituitary gland is not releasing. This treatment will not help in Nephrogenic DI since the kidneys will respond to this synthetic hormone just as they cannot respond to the ADH. Diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and amiloride and anti-inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin are often prescribed in this case.

More about diabetes insipidus around the Web:

Around the Web, learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this uncommon diabetes...

The Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus Foundation - Access to the latest research through journal articles and clinical trials combined with a good supply of information on low salt and salt free diets for infants, kids and adults and plenty of leads for further information for patients and professionals. Spanish version is available.

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse - Diabetes Insipidus - From the US government a solid fact sheet on Central DI, Nephrogenic DI, Dipsogenic DI and Gestational DI with diagnostic tests and links to other resources.

Histiocytosis Association of America - Diabetes Insipidus - Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a condition that may lead to DI. The site has sections on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment plus related articles.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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