What Causes Diabetes Insipidus?

The causes of central or neurogenic DI and nephrogenic DI are different.

Central or neurogenic DI

  • Damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
  • Head trauma
  • An infection, tumor or growth near the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
  • Surgery near the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
  • Poor development of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland before birth
  • Randomly and for no explained reason. We call this idiopathic DI, which means we don’t know the cause or reason of the central or neurogenic DI.

Nephrogenic DI

  • Genetic problems in which the kidney doesn’t properly respond to vasopressin or other parts of the kidney’s water-saving machinery
  • Medications, such as lithium and demeclocycline (an antibiotic)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Imbalance of certain blood chemicals, like calcium and potassium
  • Damage to the kidney tubules (tubes inside the kidneys that transfer water and salt into urine)

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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.