What is the role of drug therapy in the treatment of diabetes insipidus (DI)?

Updated: Mar 18, 2020
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Answer

In patients with central DI, desmopressin is the drug of choice. [36, 37] A synthetic analogue of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), desmopressin is available in subcutaneous, IV, intranasal, and oral preparations. [38] Generally, it can be administered 2-3 times per day. Patients may require hospitalization to establish fluid needs. Frequent electrolyte monitoring is recommended during the initial phase of treatment.

Alternatives to desmopressin as pharmacologic therapy for DI include synthetic vasopressin and the nonhormonal agents chlorpropamide, carbamazepine, clofibrate (no longer on the US market), thiazides, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Because of side effects, carbamazepine is rarely used, being employed only when all other measures prove unsatisfactory. NSAIDs (eg, indomethacin) may be used in nephrogenic DI, but only when no better options exist.

In central DI, the primary problem is a hormone deficiency; therefore, physiologic replacement with desmopressin is usually effective. Use a nonhormonal drug for central DI if response is incomplete or desmopressin is too expensive.


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