What is Diabetes Insipidus (DI)?

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a condition in which the kidneys cannot regulate the amount of fluid in the body. This causes the body to make too much urine, which can cause dehydration.

There are 2 types of diabetes insipidus. Each type of DI is treated by a different type of doctor.

  • Central or neurogenic DI is when the pituitary gland (a small gland just below the brain that controls other glands in the body) doesn’t release vasopressin into the bloodstream. Children with central or neurogenic DI are treated by endocrinologists (endocrine gland doctors).
  • Nephrogenic DI is when the kidneys don’t respond to vasopressin. Children with nephrogenic DI are treated by nephrologists (kidney doctors).

What is Vasopressin?

Vasopressin is a hormone that helps keep the right amount of water in the body. It is often called antidiuretic hormone or ADH.

Vasopressin is made by the hypothalamus (a small part of the brain just above the pituitary gland) and stored in the pituitary gland for the body to use. The back part of the pituitary gland stores the vasopressin until the body needs it.

Normally, when the body needs to hold onto fluid, the pituitary gland releases vasopressin to the kidneys. This makes the kidneys retain fluid so the body doesn’t become dehydrated. This causes the kidneys to make less urine than usual.

When there is a problem with vasopressin, the kidneys lose too much fluid. This causes dehydration and frequent urination.

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Rev. 9/2015. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.