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Diabetes Insipidus


Overview :

The balance of fluid within the body is maintained through a number of mechanisms. One important chemical involved in fluid balance is called antidiuretic hormone (ADH). ADH is produced by the pituitary, a small gland located at the base of the brain. In a healthy person and under normal conditions, ADH is continuously released. ADH influences the amount of fluid that the kidneys reabsorb into the circulatory system and the amount of fluid that the kidneys pass out of the body in the form of urine.

Production of ADH is regulated by the osmolality of the circulating blood. Osmolality refers to the concentration of dissolved chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride; together called solute) circulating in the fluid base of the blood (plasma). When there is very little fluid compared to the concentration of solute, the pituitary will increase ADH production. This tells the kidneys to retain more water and to decrease the amount of urine produced. As fluid is retained, the concentration of solute will normalize. At other times, when the fluid content of the blood is high in comparison to the concentration of solute, ADH production will decrease. The kidneys are then free to pass an increased amount of fluid out of the body in the urine. Again, this will allow the plasma osmolality to return to normal.

Diabetes insipidus occurs when either the amount of ADH produced by the pituitary is below normal (central DI), or the kidneys' ability to respond to ADH is defective (nephrogenic DI). In either case, a person with DI will pass extraordinarily large quantities of urine, sometimes reaching 10 or more liters each day. At the same time, the patient's blood will be very highly concentrated, with low fluid volume and high concentrations of solute.

DI occurs on average when a person is about 24 years old, and occurs more frequently in males than in females.




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