Diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that increases your need to urinate and, as a result, can make you dehydrated and very thirsty. This condition occurs when the kidneys can’t properly concentrate urine. When the kidneys are functioning normally, they regulate the body’s water balance by making either dilute or concentrated urine. When a person develops diabetes insipidus, the kidneys have an impaired ability to concentrate urine. People with diabetes insipidus make a large amount of diluted urine, which causes them to urinate frequently, feel thirsty, and drink a lot of fluids. Diabetes insipidus is unrelated to diabetes mellitus (diabetes associated with high blood sugar levels).

Why UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center?

The team at Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center provides expert consultation and ongoing care for patients with prediabetes, diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy and any diabetes-related complications and conditions.

Our center is unique in that we offer care and treatment across the lifespan. Our multidisciplinary health care team includes certified diabetes care and education specialists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, registered dietitians, pharmacists, and social workers. We have an education center that provides first-class, cutting edge diabetes education in individual and group settings. Appointments are available both in-person and via telehealth.

Our outpatient location at UK HealthCare – Turfland provides a convenient, single location where patients can easily access many of their related health care services. UK HealthCare – Turfland, which offers abundant free parking, is home to many other expert clinical health care providers, including those from primary care, urgent care, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology/MRI, ophthalmology and more.

UK HealthCare’s state-of-the-art electronic health record uses the MyChart patient portal for communication between provider and patient.

How do providers work together to best serve their patients?

  • A multidisciplinary team of providers and diabetes care and education specialists coordinate a specific treatment plan tailored to each patient.
  • A comprehensive medical record network coordinates care among your healthcare team, as well as with local and regional health care facilities. The MyChart portal tool promotes quick and effective communication with our patients. 
  • Pediatric and adult teams housed in the same clinic offers a smooth transition of care as pediatric patients reach adulthood and transfer care to the adult team.

Diabetes insipidus symptoms are related to excessive urine output and can include:

  • Bedwetting, sometimes even in adults
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fever
  • Increased and sometimes uncontrollable need to urinate
  • Increased urine output
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Sluggishness
  • Very pale to clear urine

Diabetes insipidus occurs when the body doesn’t regulate fluids properly due to low levels of antidiuretic hormone (also known as ADH or vasopressin) or resistance to the actions of this hormone. Depending on the type of diabetes insipidus you have, these hormones fail to act due to:

  • Damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. When you have an injury or illness in the part of your brain that produces ADH, you can develop central diabetes insipidus. This condition is the most common type of diabetes insipidus. It can occur due to head trauma, brain tumors, conditions or surgery affecting the pituitary gland, and some genetic conditions. 
  • Dysfunction of the thirst mechanism. The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that regulates your sense of thirst. When it is out of balance, you can develop dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, causing you to become very thirsty and drink more water than your body can handle.
  • Genetic mutations. Some genetic mutations, both inherited and acquired, can damage the kidneys, making them unable to respond to ADH. This condition is known as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. It can also occur due to certain medications, a blockage in the urinary tract, kidney disease and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Pregnancy. While rare, gestational diabetes insipidus can occur during pregnancy when an enzyme made by the placenta destroys ADH function. This condition typically goes away after pregnancy.

Because diabetes insipidus is often related to changes within the body or trauma to the body, it typically is not preventable. But if you are diagnosed with some type of diabetes insipidus, you can take steps to manage it:

  • Practice healthy lifestyle habits to maintain good overall health, including eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough quality sleep.
  • Take special precautions to stay hydrated and maintain a good balance of electrolytes in your body.
  • Work with your medical provider to manage thirst and other symptoms.

In some cases, those who have diabetes insipidus may experience:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance caused by excessive urination
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low temperature