A stick figure on a public washroom sign holding their pelvic area.
Diabetes insipidus is when the kidneys make too much urine, causing frequent urination, dry mouth and thirst.

Diabetes Insipidus Symptoms

Diabetes insipidus involves a condition where the kidneys make excess urine. This leads to an imbalance of fluids in the body. Diabetes insipidus is an uncommon condition. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 1 in 25,000 people are affected by the disease. In this article, we will take a look at diabetes insipidus symptoms, so you can see if you are at risk.

What Causes Diabetes Insipidus?

The condition can be inherited, or it can develop later in life due to a variety of problems, such as a brain tumor, head injury, or brain infection. It occurs due to a lack of the hormone vasopressin produced by the brain. The hormone tells the kidneys to retain water. Because there is either a lack of vasopressin or the kidneys do not respond to it, the kidneys do not hold onto an adequate amount of urine and instead excrete excess amounts.

Although some symptoms are similar, diabetes insipidus is different from the common condition diabetes mellitus. The symptoms of diabetes insipidus can vary. Some people may have more severe symptoms than others. Usually, the form that is acquired is less severe than the genetic form. In the inherited form, symptoms typically start shortly after birth. Most children are diagnosed within their first year.

In babies, caregivers may notice several heavy, wet diapers. But signs of dehydration may also develop if fluid intake does not make up for the excess urination. Signs of dehydration may include a lack of tears, constipation and weight loss.

8 Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus

The most common symptoms of diabetes insipidus in order of likelihood include the following:

1. Excessive Urine Production

One of the main symptoms of diabetes insipidus is producing excessive amounts of urine. Normally, most people make about 1 to 3 quarts of urine each day. But people with diabetes insipidus may make up to 20 quarts of urine daily. Typically, urine is pale yellow. But the urine made is colorless. Because so much urine is made, it can lead to frequent nighttime awakenings and even bedwetting.

2. Thirst

In people with diabetes insipidus, too much water is lost from the body through excess urine. In order to try to maintain proper fluid levels, a person feels excessive thirst, which prompts them to drink more. But their thirst is not satisfied even after drinking large amounts of fluid. The feeling of always being thirsty can be uncomfortable. Babies and young children who cannot say what the problem is may become irritable and fussy.

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3. Dry Mouth

Extreme dry mouth is a common symptom of dehydration that can occur with diabetes insipidus. A dry mouth can become severe and lead to cracked lips. Even if fluid intake becomes excessive, it can be hard to combat dry mouth.

4. Fatigue

Due to the imbalance of fluid or possible dehydration, most people with diabetes feel abnormal fatigue. A person may have a lack of energy and have trouble getting through everyday tasks. In children, it can also cause problems with growth.

5. Dizziness

Adults who have diabetes insipidus may develop dizziness or light-headedness. In some cases, they may develop a sudden decrease in blood pressure due to fluid imbalance. Some people also have a decrease in blood pressure when they stand, which is called orthostatic hypotension.

6. Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting can also develop with diabetes insipidus. When too much urine is made by the body, it needs to be removed. It is the body’s natural response to try to get rid of the water. Urination may not always be enough. The body may also try to get rid of the water by vomiting.

7. Confusion

The body needs the right balance of water and electrolytes. When the fluid balance is abnormal, it also throws off the balance of minerals and salt. If enough water is not taken in to replace the excess urine output, significant dehydration can develop. When this occurs, the balance of sodium in the blood can become too high. This condition is called hypernatremia. Hypernatremia can cause symptoms, including confusion. If left untreated, it can also lead to seizures, fainting and coma. Other electrolyte abnormalities can cause additional symptoms, such as leg cramps, loss of appetite and weakness.

8. Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive is a broad term that is used to describe weight gain and development that is significantly below other children of the same age. In babies who have diabetes insipidus, they may experience repeated episodes of dehydration. This can lead to several issues, such as physical and developmental delays. In severe cases, it can lead to brain damage. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, development is often normal.

In Review

Although there is currently no cure for diabetes insipidus, there are ways to manage the condition. Treatment includes making sure a person takes in enough fluids to avoid dehydration. In addition, other symptoms, such as an electrolyte imbalance, may be treated with medication. Certain dietary modifications may also help manage the condition.