Central diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that can cause extreme thirst and a frequent need to pee. It occurs when there isn’t enough antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in your body.

Diabetes insipidus is a rare condition where the kidneys can’t properly balance the amount of water in your body.

You may experience extreme thirst and frequent urination, and your chances of dehydration and developing an electrolyte imbalance are higher. This type of diabetes insipidus may happen because of a brain injury, a surgical procedure, an illness, or even a tumor.

This article explains what causes this type of diabetes insipidus and what medications may help replace missing ADH. It also covers lifestyle changes you can consider discussing with your doctor.

Central diabetes insipidus is a form of diabetes insipidus that occurs when there’s not enough ADH in your body. It’s also sometimes known as cranial diabetes insipidus.

ADH — or arginine vasopressin, as it’s also known — is released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream when water levels in the body fall too low. This hormone tells the kidneys to reduce the amount of water in the urine they’re making and return this water to the bloodstream instead.

If there isn’t enough ADH in your body, excess water will continue leaving the body in your pee, further lowering fluid levels.

Symptoms of central diabetes insipidus can resemble those of other unrelated conditions, like type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

That’s why it’s important that you visit your doctor’s office for diagnostic testing. They can properly diagnose central diabetes insipidus. Their process may include a water deprivation test to check how the body responds to you not drinking water.

As well as water deprivation testing, your doctor might suggest a blood test to check the levels of ADH in your body. They might also test your urine and blood for high glucose levels, which might mean diabetes mellitus instead.

If your doctor has reason to believe that damage to the brain is resulting in lower-than-expected ADH levels, they may recommend an MRI, too.

Central diabetes insipidus differs from nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and gestational diabetes insipidus because people with central diabetes insipidus have bodies that don’t create enough ADH.

When you have nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, there’s enough ADH in your body, but your kidneys aren’t reacting as expected to it. This may be due to certain medications, other health conditions, or genetics.

Gestational diabetes insipidus is a very specific type of diabetes insipidus that can occur in pregnancy. In these cases, the placenta releases excess enzymes, and the body breaks ADH down too quickly. In most cases, gestational diabetes insipidus will resolve shortly after the delivery of the placenta.

Central diabetes insipidus occurs when the body doesn’t have enough ADH.

Two areas of the brain are responsible for the amount of ADH in the body: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus produces ADH, and the pituitary gland stores and releases it. When something injures or affects these areas of the brain, the amount of ADH in the body may drop, resulting in central diabetes insipidus.

Possible causes of hypothalamus or pituitary gland dysfunction include:

Some common symptoms of diabetes insipidus include:

People with central diabetes insipidus may notice that their pee is very pale because of the high water concentration.

As a result of lower fluid levels and the need to drink and urinate frequently, those with central diabetes insipidus may feel fatigued, not sleep well, or have difficulty concentrating.

Two major complications related to untreated central diabetes insipidus are dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. Without treatment, these can lead to seizures, kidney failure, shock, or even death.

It’s important that people with central diabetes insipidus drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Monitoring your fluid and electrolyte levels can also help stop dehydration. Some people with central diabetes insipidus may need intravenous fluids, or fluids into a vein, if their water levels drop too low.

Treatment of central diabetes insipidus also tends to include the medication desmopressin. This is a synthetic form of ADH that can increase the amount of this hormone in your body. It comes in pill form, as a nasal spray, and as a shot.

It’s also important to treat any underlying causes of low ADH levels when possible. For example, if a tumor is affecting your body’s ability to produce and release ADH, getting surgery to remove the tumor may be necessary.

Central diabetes insipidus can cause excessive thirst and a frequent need to pee. It’s due to low levels of ADH in the body, and it may result from a head injury, illness, surgery, or tumor.

If you’re having symptoms of central diabetes insipidus, it’s important to talk with your doctor. They can perform diagnostic testing to confirm the cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.