Healthy Living

Diabetes Insipidus: It's Not About the Blood Sugar

Diabetes Insipidus: It's Not About the Blood Sugar

When you think of diabetes, you often think of two types: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. But these forms only fall under one category of diabetes, which is known as diabetes mellitus. There is another category of diabetes that often gets confused with diabetes mellitus, called diabetes insipidus.

However, unlike diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus has nothing to do with blood sugar. Instead, diabetes insipidus causes an imbalance of water in the body, which increases your thirst that makes you drink an extreme amount of fluids and excrete large amounts of urine. Even with this, your body will still crave fluids.  

Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder that happens when the kidneys pass an unusually large amount of urine that is odorless and diluted.

Depending on how severe the diabetes insipidus is, the patient may find that their urine output is as much as 16 quarts or 15 liters a day. High output does depend on if you are drinking quite a bit of fluid. As a comparison, healthy adults urinate less than 3 quarts or 3 liters a day.

With diabetes insipidus, you are usually up and down all night urinating, and sometimes, you may even wet the bedChildren and infants who have diabetes insipidus have these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Delayed growth
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fussiness

In adults, the symptoms include frequent urination and the similar symptoms listed for children.

Your doctor can diagnose diabetes insipidus based on an urinalysis and fluid deprivation tests. A physical exam also checks out your skin and appearance, as well as any signs of dehydration.

Diabetes insipidus also puts you at risk for chronic kidney disease, which is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States.

Patients will also be diagnosed with a blood test to measure their sodium levels. Low sodium levels are another part of the diabetes insipidus diagnosis, and can determine the exact type.

Your doctor may also order a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. An MRI takes pictures of the body’s internal organs and soft tissues, particularly the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. The MRI can show damage, size, and issues with the hypothalamus and help further a diagnosis of diabetes insipidus.

It's important to note that there similar symptoms with diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Both conditions cause irregular urination and endless thirst, but those with diabetes insipidus have ordinary blood sugar levels. Diabetes insipidus mainly stems from the kidney, and their difficulty in balancing the fluids in the body.