Diabetes insipidus - Symptoms 

Symptoms of diabetes insipidus 

The two main symptoms of diabetes insipidus are:

  • needing to pass large amounts of urine often
  • feeling thirsty all the time

These and other symptoms you may experience if you have diabetes insipidus are outlined below.

Passing excess urine

You may pass pale, watery urine as often as 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. 

Constant thirst

You may be constantly thirsty and have a 'dry' feeling that is always present, no matter how much water you drink.

Trouble sleeping and carrying out daily activities

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

Generally feeling unwell

If you have diabetes insipidus, you may feel generally unwell and 'run down' much of the time for no apparent reason.

Additional symptoms in children

In very young children who are unable to speak, it may be difficult to realise they are excessively thirsty. 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:

When to seek medical advice

You should always contact your GP for advice if you find yourself feeling thirsty all the time. While it may not necessarily be the result of diabetes insipidus, it should be investigated.

You should also see your GP if you are passing more urine than normal. Most healthy adults will pass urine no more than 4-7 times in a 24 hour period.

Children tend to urinate more frequently as they have smaller bladders, but if your child urinates more than 10 times a day they may require further investigation by your GP. 


Page last reviewed: 01/05/2012

Next review due: 01/05/2014

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Toilet card

Constantly needing to pass urine can make it difficult to be out and about if you don't know where the nearest toilet is. If you have diabetes insipidus, the Pituitary Foundation can provide a toilet facility card, which will allow you to use toilets in public places if they are not easily available.

Does your child have a serious illness?

Symptoms to look out for if you're concerned your child may be seriously ill