Diabetes Insipidus in Children

August 8, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Diabetes insipidus is a condition marked by excessive urination and uncontrolled thirst, diabetes insipidus is a challenging and difficult diagnosis for any family to receive. Although it shares a name with the far more common condition of diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus is not related to this disease. While there is not currently a cure, this is a very treatable and manageable disease.

By getting practical information on diabetes insipidus, you and your family can take a proactive and positive role in your child’s treatment and care. The following helpful overview can help you take the steps to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

What is diabetes insipidus?

Diabetes insipidus is an extremely rare condition that occurs due to an inability to balance fluid levels in the body. In return the body makes too much urine causing the person to void out the fluid they should be retaining. This can cause intense thirst with the need to replace water, and a child is at risk of dangerous dehydration with not enough fluid replacement.

This condition is usually due to a hormonal imbalance in either the pituitary gland, the kidneys, or other causes. Types of diabetes insipidus include central diabetes insipidus, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, which is related to the kidneys, and gestational diabetes insipidus. Diabetes insipidus most commonly affects males, although it can develop in females as well.

Diabetes Insipidus Risk Factors

For children who develop this condition at birth, or in infancy, one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes insipidus is genetics. In many cases, this is due to an inherited defect that permanently affects the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine or affects the pituitary gland’s ability to produce or create anti-diuretic hormones.

Diabetes Insipidus Causes

Diabetes Insipidus is primarily caused because of a lack of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin, which is needed to filter fluid back into the bloodstream. When this doesn’t happen, the body flushes this fluid out as urine and causes an intense thirst to replace the lost fluid.

In addition to genetics, major causes of diabetes insipidus in children include damage from surgery, an autoimmune disease, chronic kidney disorder, and brain injury. In very rare cases, certain drugs such as lithium or foscarnet may also contribute to the disease.

Diabetes Insipidus Signs and Symptoms

Major signs and symptoms of diabetes insipidus include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination with high volumes
  • Pale urine
  • Preference for cold drinks
  • Heavy diapers
  • Bedwetting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Developmental delays
  • Weight loss

Diabetes Insipidus Complications

The single biggest complication of diabetes insipidus in children is dehydration due to an inability to constantly replace fluids. Another common problem is electrolyte imbalance of sodium and potassium levels that further help balance fluids. Both of these can lead to dry mouth, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and muscle cramps.

It is important to see a doctor immediately if you see any signs of diabetes insipidus or related complications.

Diagnosing Diabetes Insipidus

Common diagnostic steps for diabetes insipidus include a physical examination, a review of medical history, and questions about symptoms. Additionally, doctors will often administer a water deprivation test to measure fluid levels, blood levels, and other signs of water deprivation. Other diagnostic tests can include magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) and genetic testing.

Diabetes Insipidus Treatment

Although there is currently no cure for this disease, there are treatment options depending on the specific form of diabetes insipidus diagnosed in your child. In the mildest cases, the recommendation may be to increase water intake to prevent dehydration. A common form of treatment, especially for central diabetes insipidus, is a synthetic hormone treatment known as desmopressin to help the body replace the missing antidiuretic hormone and decrease urination. In other cases, diuretic medications can counterintuitively help decrease urine output.

Another recommendation may be a low-salt diet, which can reduce the amount of urine produced by the kidneys.

Caring for a Child with Diabetes Insipidus

With proper treatment and care, children with diabetes insipidus can have a normal and active childhood. To prevent complications, it is important to stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet, and take any and all medications as indicated. In many cases, families benefit from pediatric home health services. An experienced and caring pediatric home health professional can meet special needs and balance busy schedules to help children with diabetes insipidus and their families manage this condition.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer one on one support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.