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Diabetes Insipidus Causes: How To Prevent the Condition

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Honey Buenaventura · Updated Feb 27, 2023

Diabetes Insipidus Causes: How To Prevent the Condition

The cause of diabetes insipidus is an imbalance in bodily fluids. Those with this rare condition produce high amounts of diluted or clear urine. Moreover, the patient is often likely to get thirsty immediately, even after drinking water just moments ago. 

Not to be confused with diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus happens when the kidney is unable to control the amount of water in the urine during the filtering process. 

Apart from extreme dehydration, diabetes insipidus can bring forth other illnesses, if not managed properly. Read on to know about diabetes insipidus causes, signs and symptoms, as well treatment options available. 

What Are Common Diabetes Insipidus Causes?

Diabetes insipidus is the failure of the kidneys to control water balance, leading to frequent urination. The main culprit behind this is a chemical known as vasopressin (AVP) or the antidiuretic hormone (ADH). 

This chemical can be found and created in the hypothalamus, and is stored in and released by the pituitary gland. This chemical is responsible for regulating the water found in the urine. Think of it this way: When you’re thirsty, the pituitary gland sends AVP to help conserve water, and temporarily halt the production of urine. 

The opposite happens when you have diabetes insipidus. It’s either there isn’t enough AVP or the kidney fails to respond properly to the chemical. 

Diabetes insipidus causes can also depend on the type of disease you have: 

Cranial Diabetes Insipidus

If somehow your pituitary gland or your hypothalamus got affected by a recent surgery, trauma, or illness, this can affect the production and release of AVP. There are cases where an inherited genetic disease can cause this type of diabetes insipidus.

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

This occurs when there is a defect in the kidney structures due to a disorder or reaction to a medication that prevents it from responding to AVP. 

Gestational Diabetes Insipidus

The enzyme released by the placenta, especially during the third trimester, destroys the AVP. 

Dipsogenic Diabetes Insipidus

Also known as primary polydipsia, this type is commonly linked to mental illness. It’s a disorder that causes one to drink an excessive amount of fluids, even if not thirsty in the first place. 


Of course, the main symptom would be the need to urinate at least every 15 to 20 minutes. In severe cases, a person can produce 20 liters of urine per day. 

The second main symptom would have to be feeling thirsty all the time, no matter how much you drink. 

When putting these two together, you risk losing sleep and can disrupt your daily activities. You’ll find yourself more tired and irritable than usual. 

If your child has diabetes insipidus, you’ll have to deal with constant crying, bed-wetting, and loss of appetite. 

Without proper treatment, it may lead to permanent kidney damage and other disorders. 


To confirm if you truly are susceptible to the condition, the doctor will likely use the following tests:

  • Water deprivation test to see how much urine you can produce without drinking anything
  • Urine and blood tests 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine your pituitary gland 
  • Genetic screening 


To this day, there is still no one cure for all available. Your treatment will likely depend on the different diabetes insipidus causes

For central diabetes insipidus, you can take desmopressin (DDAVP), a synthetic hormone that replaces the missing AVP. Doctors can administer this through a tablet, injection, or nasal spray. The treatment is also effective for gestational diabetes insipidus.  

Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus requires more complicated treatments, or sometimes a combination of different approaches. It’s either you change your current medication, or try anti-inflammatory drugs or water pills. 

As for polydipsia, the only viable thing to do is to decrease water intake. Mental illness is often the cause, so treatment should focus on that. 

Once diagnosed, you’ll most likely deal with diabetes insipidus all your life. However, symptoms are more manageable now with all the medications available. Just stick to your treatment plan, and always have a drink with you at all times. 

Learn more about Kidney Disease here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Honey Buenaventura · Updated Feb 27, 2023

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