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A to Z: Diabetes Insipidus, Central

In central diabetes insipidus, the body doesn’t produce enough antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin. ADH, made by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, helps balance the amount of water and salts in the body.

More to Know

Without enough ADH, the kidneys can’t keep enough water in the body. As a result, people with central diabetes insipidus lose too much water in their urine (pee). They may pee often and in large amounts, get up in the night to drink or pee, wet the bed, feel thirsty a lot, or become dehydrated.


The disorder often happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly destroys cells in the hypothalamus that produce ADH. In some cases, central diabetes insipidus runs in families. It also can develop as a result of brain surgery, head injury, tumors, or other conditions that cause damage to the hypothalamus.

When doctors suspect the diagnosis, they confirm it with the results of blood and urine tests. An MRI of the head and other tests also might be done to look for an underlying cause.

Keep in Mind

Treatment usually involves taking medicines that replace the missing ADH to help the body produce less urine. The medication can be given as a pill, nasal spray, or injections into the skin. If the diabetes insipidus is caused by a treatable underlying disorder, the doctor will treat that also.

In some cases, kids and teens with central diabetes insipidus may develop low levels of other hormones made by the hypothalamus and require additional medications for treatment.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.