Diabetes insipidus (excessive drinking)


  • Many babies and children, particularly toddlers, will drink a lot and consequently pass a lot of urine - this is known as 'habitual drinking'.

  • If a baby starts leaking from nappies, a child starts wetting the bed (and this is unusual for them) or is having accidents during the day, or a teenager finds that they are thirstier than usual and urinating more than previously, then this could indicate that they have diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus.

  • Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes, often referred to just as 'diabetes') can be checked by a doctor using a finger prick blood test – this is not associated with a brain tumour. If the blood test is normal, then this thirst can be due to diabetes insipidus, where the body is not able to concentrate urine properly. This is rare and is usually due to a disturbance of the regulation of the hormones released by a part of the brain, called the pituitary gland. A brain tumour can be one possible cause of such disturbance.

In babies and young children who are unable to communicate, it may be difficult to realize that they are excessively thirsty. Signs and symptoms that could suggest diabetes insipidus include:

  • unexplained weight loss

  • large volumes of urine, and potential leaks from nappies

Children and teenagers who have diabetes insipidus will have:

  • excessive thirst - an ongoing desire to drink, often feeling dry no matter how much they drink (e.g. waking at night regularly to drink)

  • increased urination - needing to go to the toilet more frequently and often passing pale watery urine

Any baby, child or teenager with increased thirst and urination should be seen urgently by a doctor to determine whether this is due to a type of diabetes, and if so, the cause of the diabetes.


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