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Diabetes Insipidus

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KEY POINTS

  • Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare condition that causes the kidneys to make and pass large amounts of urine.
  • The treatment of DI includes taking medicines and ensuring that your child always has plenty of water available to drink.
  • Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Give all medicines exactly as directed by your child’s provider. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how to take care of your child at home.

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What is diabetes insipidus?

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare condition that causes the kidneys to make and pass large amounts of urine.

The kidneys are inside the belly, on either side of the spine just above the waist. They make urine by removing waste products, extra salt and other minerals, and water from the blood.

Even though diabetes insipidus has the word “diabetes” in it, this condition is not related to diabetes mellitus, which is a problem with how the body uses glucose (sugar) for energy.

What is the cause?

Causes of DI include:

  • A brain tumor, injury, or infection may cause a problem with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located in your child’s brain and makes many different hormones. Hormones are chemicals made in the body that help with body functions, including how the kidneys work.
  • A kidney problem where the pituitary gland makes the right hormones to help the kidneys function, but the kidneys do not respond normally. This can be caused by:
    • A genetic problem
    • A serious infection

DI in a newborn is a serious problem that can be difficult to treat. When DI happens in an older child, the problem is more treatable.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms in newborn may include:

  • Passing large amounts of urine very often
  • Irritability
  • Strong suck followed by vomiting
  • Lack of weight gain and slow growth
  • Very wet diapers that need to be changed often
  • Fever
  • Constipation

Signs and symptoms in a child or adolescent may include:

  • Passing large amounts of urine very often
  • Problems with toilet training
  • Night time urination and interrupted sleep
  • Feeling thirsty and drinking large amounts of liquids often
  • Craving water or ice more than food
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling very tired

Serious symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • MRI, which uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to show detailed pictures of the brain
  • Ultrasound scan, which uses sound waves to show pictures of the kidneys

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on what is causing DI. The treatment of DI may include:

  • Medicines to help control your urine flow
  • Drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • A low sodium (salt) and low protein diet

Treating the cause of DI with medicines or surgery may also be needed. Your child may need to stay in the hospital to receive IV fluids, medicines, or surgery.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Give any medicines exactly as directed by your child’s provider.

  • Help your child stay hydrated. Make sure your child has plenty of water available at all times.
  • Help your child at a variety of healthy foods. Ask your child’s provider or dietitian if there are any foods your child should avoid.
  • Ask your provider what medicines your child needs to avoid because they could hurt the kidneys.
  • Ask your child’s provider:
    • How and when you will get your child’s test results
    • How long it will take your child to recover
    • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
    • How to take care of your child at home
    • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Consider having your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace so others will know about your child’s condition.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-10-29
Last reviewed: 2019-08-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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