What is diabetes insipidus (DI)?

Diabetes insipidus is a rare medical condition that results in water imbalance in the body. As a result of the kidney failing to properly conserve fluids, patients with DI experience excessive urination (polyuria). DI also makes you extremely thirsty. Your kidneys play a vital role in fluid regulation by excreting excess fluids from the bloodstream. Extra fluids will be stored in the bladder until it is expelled out of the body via urination. This process is usually regulated by a hormone known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is found in the brain. If your body wants to retain fluids, ADH will be released. If your body wants to excrete excess fluids, this hormone will not be released. DI occurs when this process is not functioning properly.

Complications of diabetes insipidus

If Diabetes insipidus is not diagnosed or is poorly controlled, complications may occur. The most common complications of diabetes insipidus include electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

Electrolyte imbalance

Electrolytes refer to natural substances such as potassium, calcium, and sodium that are found in the body. For the body to function well, electrolytes need to be maintained at the right balance. An electrolyte imbalance occurs when the amounts of electrolytes in your body are too low or too high. If this occurs, vital body organs can be adversely affected. Diabetes insipidus can result in electrolyte imbalance with symptoms such as:

  • confusion
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • irritability
  • headache
  • muscle cramps
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite

Electrolyte imbalance occurs as a result of losing a lot of body fluids through urination, diarrhea, or sweating. If left untreated, severe electrolyte imbalance can occur, leading to health problems such as seizures, cardiac arrest, and coma.


Dehydration occurs when your body is losing more fluids than you are consuming. Diabetes insipidus can result in dehydration as a result of the body failing to retain enough fluids. Without enough fluids, your body cannot function normally.

Symptoms of dehydration include

  • dry mouth
  • irritability
  • fever
  • rapid heart rate
  • weight loss
  • low blood pressure
  • increased blood potassium

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.