Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment of diabetes insipidus depends on what form of the condition you have. Treatment options for the most common types of diabetes insipidus include:

  • Central diabetes insipidus. Because the cause of this form of diabetes insipidus is a lack of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), treatment is usually with a synthetic hormone called desmopressin. You can take desmopressin as a nasal spray, as oral tablets or by injection. The synthetic hormone will eliminate the increase in urination. For most people with this form of the condition, desmopressin is safe and effective. If the condition is caused by an abnormality in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus (such as a tumor), your doctor will first treat the abnormality.

    Desmopressin should be considered a medication you take as needed. This is because in most people, the deficiency of ADH is not complete, and the amount made by the body can vary day to day. Taking more desmopressin than needed can result in too much water retention and low sodium levels in the blood. Symptoms of low sodium include lethargy, confusion, nausea and, in severe cases, seizures.

    In mild cases of central diabetes insipidus, you may need only to increase your water intake.

  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. This condition is the result of your kidneys not properly responding to ADH, so desmopressin is not a treatment option. Instead, your doctor may prescribe a low-salt diet to help reduce the amount of urine your kidneys make. You'll also need to drink enough water to avoid dehydration.The drug hydrochlorothiazide, used alone or with other medications, may improve symptoms. Although hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic (usually used to increase urine output), in some cases it can reduce urine output for people with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

    If symptoms from nephrogenic diabetes insipidus are due to medications you're taking, stopping these medicines may help; however, don't stop taking any medication without first talking to your doctor.

  • Gestational diabetes insipidus. Treatment for most cases of gestational diabetes insipidus is with the synthetic hormone desmopressin. In rare cases, this form of the condition is caused by an abnormality in the thirst mechanism. In these rare cases, doctors don't prescribe desmopressin.
  • Primary polydipsia. There is no specific treatment for this form of diabetes insipidus, other than decreasing the amount of fluid intake. However, if the condition is caused by mental illness, treating the mental illness may relieve the symptoms.
Mar. 14, 2013

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.