The telltale symptoms of diabetes insipidus are increased thirst and urination. Since these symptoms are associated with a number of conditions, including diabetes mellitus, diagnostic testing will need to be performed to determine the cause of the symptoms. Usually, treatment starts with a general practitioner, who may refer a patient to a specialist if necessary.
It is important to be aware that diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus are not related, despite the similarities in the names. While both are associated with increased thirst and urination, the causes are different and the treatment approaches are also different. In the case of patients with diabetes insipidus, the kidneys have trouble conserving water due to a hormone imbalance, leading the body to crave fluid even as it excretes highly dilute urine. There is a risk of dehydration for patients with this condition.
People of all ages who develop this condition will show diabetes insipidus symptoms like increased thirst, consumption of large amounts of fluids, and frequent urination. Many people crave cold water or ice specifically, and the urine is heavily diluted. Even with all the fluid consumption, signs of dehydration can occur as well. Younger patients may develop nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Diabetes insipidus symptoms in the young also include a failure to grow and thrive.
Other diabetes insipidus symptoms include a need to urinate at night, or to urinate during the night more frequently than usual. Some patients experience bedwetting. People sometimes refer to this condition as “water diabetes" to contrast with with diabetes mellitus or “sugar diabetes.” The symptoms of diabetes mellitus are similar, but patients also develop issues such as blurred vision, hunger, and nausea. These differences can help doctors differentiate between the two conditions and arrive at a diagnosis more quickly.
Diabetes insipidus can be caused by a number of different things, including medications, tumors, and genetic conditions. When diabetes insipidus symptoms are identified, diagnostic testing can be used to determine what is causing the hormone imbalance that is leading to the problem. This information can be used to develop a treatment plan. Treating the underlying cause, if possible, is a first step, and there are also medications available for diabetes insipidus treatment.
People who notice diabetes insipidus symptoms, like sudden changes in the amount of fluids they consume, paired with frequent urination should discuss the issue with a doctor, unless there is a compelling and obvious reason, such as hot weather, leading to increased water consumption. Catching medical problems early makes them much easier to treat and can help people avoid permanent damage.