Diabetes Insipidus

The medication used to treat this disorder is called desmopressin acetate (DDAVP), which is similar to the hormone antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin, produced by your body. DDAVP comes in several forms. Your doctor will work with you to prescribe the one that works best for you. The different forms are:

Nasal Spray — This is medication is squirted into your nostril. A dose is usually taken at bedtime so you can sleep through the night uninterrupted. Some people may require a dose during the day.

Rhinal Tube Solution — This form of the medication is stored in the refrigerator at all times. A small tube tis used o deliver very precise doses of medication into your nose. Though the medication can be more difficult to deliver through the rhinal tube, you can vary the dose of the medication, as needed. It can be more helpful for those who have a varying schedule or who need very small doses. Both this form and the nasal spray are delivered into your nostril for very rapid absorption into the bloodstream. Clean your nostrils with a tissue before administration the medication for better absorption.

Pills — Pills are convenient but they take longer to take effect. You won't feel your thirst dissipate as quickly as you would by taking the spray or rhinal tube. For some patients, pills aren't as effective in controlling symptoms.

It's important to follow directions in taking this medication. Most people take a dose at beditme so they sleep through the night comfortably. You may find that you sometimes need a dose during the day to control your symptoms or that your needs change when you're ill, particularly if you have a stuffy nose, when the DDAVP spray may not be absorbed as well. You don't have to take the DDAVP every day at the same time.

Don't take the medication if you don't need it. Take your medication when you are:

  • Urinating excessively or your urine is as clear as water
  • Excessive thirsty

If you take too much DDAVP or take it when you don't need it, your body may retain too much fluid and you may develop a condition called hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Warning signs of this disorder include decreased thirst and urination, headache, nausea, fatigue, and confusion.

If you feel that your symptoms aren't being controlled or if you experience some of the warning signs of hyponatremia, contact your doctor so your medication dose can be adjusted. If properly treated, you should be able to maintain your normal lifestyle and activities.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Neurology and Neurosurgery

Pituitary Disorders Center
400 Parnassus Ave., Eighth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (866) 559-5543
or (415) 353-7500
Fax: (415) 353-2889
Appointment information

Endocrinology Clinic at Parnassus
400 Parnassus Ave., Suite A-550
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353–2350
Fax: (415) 353–2337
Appointment information