Symptoms of diabetes insipidus 

The two main symptoms of diabetes insipidus are often needing to pass large amounts of urine and feeling extremely thirsty.

If you have diabetes insipidus, you may pass pale, watery urine every 15-20 minutes. The amount of urine passed can range from 3 litres (5.2 pints) in mild cases to up to 20 litres (35 pints) in severe cases.

It's also likely that you'll feel thirsty all the time and have a 'dry' feeling that's always present, no matter how much water you drink.

If you need to pass urine regularly and always feel thirsty, your sleeping patterns and daily activities may be disrupted. This can cause tiredness, irritability and difficulty concentrating, which can affect your daily life further.

You may also feel generally unwell and 'run down' much of the time for no apparent reason.

Symptoms in children

Excessive thirst can be difficult to recognise in children who are too young to speak. Signs and symptoms that could suggest diabetes insipidus include:

  • excessive crying
  • irritability
  • slower than expected growth
  • hyperthermia (high body temperature)
  • unexplained weight loss 

In older children, symptoms of diabetes insipidus include:

  • wetting the bed (enuresis) – although most children who wet the bed don't have diabetes insipidus
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling tired all the time (fatigue)

Toilet card

Frequently needing to pass urine can make being out in public difficult, particularly if you don't know where the nearest toilet is.

The Bladder and Bowel Foundation (B&BF) has produced a 'Just Can't Wait' toilet card that can be used to help you gain access to toilets when you're out and about.

The card states that the holder has a medical condition and needs to use a toilet quickly. It also has a universally acknowledged image for a toilet, which is particularly useful for people who don't speak English as their first language.

Page last reviewed: 25/04/2016

Next review due: 25/04/2018