Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetes Insipidus may share a name, but they are pretty unrelated. The connection in their terms dates back to when medical researchers understood that even with similar symptoms, the causes we very different.

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition characterized by the body not producing enough glucose in the body, causing the blood sugar or glucose levels to rise. At the same time, Diabetes Insipidus, commonly referred to as DI, is characterized by the kidneys not retaining enough water.

Here is a look at the difference between these two conditions, their causes, and their treatment.

What Are the Causes of Diabetes Insipidus Vs Diabetes Mellitus?

Causes of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is the most prevalent type of the two. It has two forms, i.e. type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The cause determines the types of diabetes. Environmental factors and multiple genetic predispositions cause type 1 diabetes.

Type I diabetes is also associated with a range of autoimmune diseases, including:

  • Addison’s disease- Caused by inadequate function of the adrenal glands
  • Grave’s Disease- Associated with an overactive thyroid gland
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – Associated with an underactive thyroid
  • Celiac disease
  • Vitiligo disease- Associated with patches on the skin with no pigment
  • Autoimmune hepatitis- associated with intolerance to gluten

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is caused by lifestyle factors that can be easily modified. It is also associated with obesity and insulin resistance.

Causes of Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes Insipidus is caused by the lack of a hormone known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or Vasopressin (VP). ADH is produced by the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland helps regulate body concertation in the body.

Vasopressin regulates the water levels in the body hence controlling urine production. When the body has low water concentrations, Vasopressin is produced to conserve water and increases the rate of water reabsorption in the kidneys, reducing the amount of urine produced.

With diabetes insipidus, Vasopressin does not regulate the body’s water levels leading to excessive urine production. This leads to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration in the body.

It is important to note that diabetes insipidus can either be caused by a lack of production of Vasopressin by the hypothalamus. This results in nonworking vasopressin receptors in the kidneys, causing nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

DI can also be inherited or acquired. Some of the causes of diabetes insipidus include:

  • Chronic use of lithium medication (Mood stabilizers)
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Brain tumors
  • Surgery
  • Other cases of DI include:
  • Low potassium levels in the blood
  • High calcium levels in the blood
  • Kidney infection
  • Infection of the brain
  • Ureteral obstruction
  • Events that reduce the amount of oxygen getting to your brain, like a stroke

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes Insipidus and Diabetes Mellitus?

While Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetes Insipidus have different causes, their initial symptoms are very similar. They include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive urination
  • Blurred vision

However, both conditions have unique symptoms upon further evaluation. Here is a closer look at their unique symptoms:

Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 and 2 diabetes have similar symptoms due to elevated sugar levels. These symptoms include:

  • Excessive urination, especially at night
  • An excessive thirst that can’t seem to be quenched
  • Extreme hunger followed by weight loss
  • Tingling and numbness of the feet.
  • Dry skin
  • Sores that are hard to heal
  • Weight loss
  • Having more infections than usual

Diabetes Insipidus

DI is characterized by the passage of large volumes of diluted urine, usually 3litres in 24 hours. Losing large volumes of fluids will make you feel tired and dehydrated. This makes most people with DI always thirsty to replace the water lost.

Here is a look at other unique symptoms with DI:

  • Bedwetting
  • Extreme urination that has little to no color or small
  • Needing to urinate a lot at night

How Do You Diagnose Diabetes Mellitus Vs Diabetes Insipidus?

Diabetes Insipidus

If you are suspected of having DI, here are the tests you can expect for diagnosis:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood test for sodium levels
  • Water deprivation test
  • Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI)

Diabetes Mellitus

If you are suspected of having diabetes mellitus, your blood fasting sugar level will be taken. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to confirm you have the condition.

Despite similar symptoms, diabetes mellitus and DI are unrelated diseases. DI affects kidney function, while diabetes mellitus is caused by irregular blood sugar/glucose levels.

References and Resources