Despite the similar-sounding name, diabetes insipidus is unrelated to diabetes mellitus, the condition that affects tens of millions of people’s ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes insipidus instead is a rare condition that affects the kidneys, making them unable to maintain appropriate fluid levels. The only characteristic the two conditions have in common is that they both cause increased thirst and urination.
The word diabetes comes from a Greek word that means siphon, referring to the increased amount of fluids taken in and excreted. Insipidus is a Latin term for something that lacks taste. Being tasteless may sound like a strange way to describe someone’s urine, but it actually refers to the symptom of having urine that is very diluted and pale in color. Learn how to recognize, diagnose and treat the four kinds of diabetes insipidus.
1. Increased Urination
The symptoms that most often bring people to the doctor are polyuria, an excessive need to urinate and nocturia, waking up to use the bathroom during the night. An average person passes between one and two quarts of urine per day. In contrast, a person with diabetes insipidus excretes up to five gallons.
The increased need to visit the restroom ranges from a minor annoyance to disability, depending on the severity of the condition and a person’s lifestyle. Often the problem interferes with work and social activities and sometimes leads to feelings of embarrassment. Having to get up during the night to use the bathroom can cause disruptions in people’s sleep cycles or even make them wet the bed.