Diabetes insipidus is very different from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by overloading the blood with glucose. This form of diabetes is linked to a problem with the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), explains the site of the Reference Center for rare diseases of the pituitary gland. This hormone allows the body to reabsorb water. That is to say, it prevents the body from rejecting all the water absorbed.

Normally, the absorbed water is processed by the kidneys, which cleanse and sort it: one part is kept to hydrate the body, and the other part is released as urine. But in people with diabetes insipidus, the kidneys fail to reabsorb the treated water. Then everything is rejected via urination. This disorder is divided into two symptoms: extreme thirst (called polydipsia) and a large amount of urine that is passed out, very clear (polyuria).

Often, the sick manifest an insatiable and overwhelming thirst. With poor balance: They are either overhydrated and have headaches, nausea, or dehydrated when they can’t drink as much as they need.

There too, there are two types of this diabetes: nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, called DIN which makes the kidneys resist anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), even if it is secreted normally. And central diabetes insipidus (DIC) which causes the hypothalamus to not secrete enough of this DHA hormone, preventing the body from absorbing water. This second form is the most common.


In 40% of cases, it is not known where diabetes insipidus comes from. But certain causes have been identified for the rest of the cases of central diabetes insipidus: after encephalitis, certain neurosurgical operations, certain diseases (tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, meningitis), it can also be the consequence of a head trauma.

For the nephrogenic type, hereditary causes are possible. It can also be due to a succession of kidney problems or even follow the absorption of certain drugs (anesthesia with methoxyflurane, aminoglycosides, lithium salts).


Although diabetes insipidus is rare (one in 25,000 people), it can be treated. The aim is to prevent the patient from over-hydrating or becoming dehydrated. This is then treated with desmopressin, which mimics the function of the anti-diuretic hormone. There are two medicines, Minirin and Minirinmelt, which are taken either orally or through the nose.

Cassidy Perry

Cassidy is a certified dietician with a focus on patients suffering with diabetes. She has more than 10 years of experience, working with patients of different background. She writes health-related article for the Scientific Origin.