Nav: Home

Harmless or hormone disorder? A new test enables quick diagnosis for drinking by the liter

August 01, 2018

Drinking excessive amounts of fluids can be a medically unremarkable habit, but it could also signify a rare hormone disorder. A new procedure now enables a fast and reliable diagnosis. Researchers from the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel reported these findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drinking more than three liters per day with the equivalent increase in urination is regarded as too much. This drinking by the liter - known as "polyuria-polydipsia syndrome"- usually develops over time through habit, or can be a side effect of a mental illness.

Hormone deficiency as a cause

In rare cases, however, it may be caused by diabetes insipidus. This is when the pituitary gland lacks the hormone vasopressin, which regulates the water and salt content in our body. Patients have a decreased ability to concentrate the urine, therefore lose a lot of fluid and have to increase their fluid intake accordingly to prevent dehydration.

The distinction between what is considered a "harmless" primary polydipsia and a diabetes insipidus is crucial, as their therapy is fundamentally different. Diabetes insipidus must be treated with the hormone vasopressin, while patients with primary polydipsia require behavioral therapy to reduce their habitual drinking. A wrong therapy can have life-threatening consequences as treatment with vasopressin without indication can lead to water intoxication.

Blood test instead of water deprivation test

Previously, the differentiation between these two conditions was made using a "water deprivation test" in which the patient was not allowed to drink any liquid for 16 hours after which the doctors would interpret the concentration of the urine. However, this test was often misleading and only led in about half of all cases to a correct diagnosis. Furthermore, a 16-hour water deprivation test is extremely unpleasant and stressful for the patients.

A study involving around 150 patients in 11 clinics compared the conventional "water deprivation test" with a new diagnostic method. It consists of a 2-hour infusion with a hypertonic saline solution; after that, the concentration of the biomarker copeptin, which reflects the content of the hormone vasopressin in the blood, is measured in the patients' blood.

Improved diagnosis and therapy

This method has a much higher diagnostic accuracy: 97 percent of all patients were correctly diagnosed and treated quickly. The new test is now available for clinical use.
-end-
The study by Dr. Julie Refardt from the University Hospital Basel (USB) and Dr. Wiebke Fenske from the University of Leipzig was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It was developed under the direction of Prof. Dr. Mirjam Christ-Crain, Head of the Department of Clinical Research at the University of Basel and USB.

University of Basel

Related Drinking Articles:

How serious is binge drinking among college students with disabilities?
A new study finds that college students with disabilities binge drink more often than their non-disabled student peers.
How to prevent lying and drinking in teens, according to research
Adolescents who have a greater tendency to lie to their parents are also more likely to start using alcohol at an earlier age, while excessive parental supervision may aggravate rather than solve the problem.
Effective intervention for binge drinking in adolescents
An intervention program based on school class groups has a preventive effect on subsequent drinking behavior, especially binge drinking, in adolescents who had previously consumed alcohol.
Does marriage affect drinking? A new study provides insights
Need to drink less? Get married, according to a new study.
Does discrimination increase drinking?
Researchers at the University of Iowa have found another negative health outcome linked to discrimination: alcohol abuse.
What can Pavlov's dogs tell us about drinking?
Pavlovian cues that predict alcohol can lead us toward addiction.
Is moderate drinking really good for you?
Many people believe a glass of wine with dinner will help them live longer and healthier -- but the scientific evidence is shaky at best, according to a new research analysis.
Moderate drinking has risks and benefits, heavy drinking heightens short- and long-term risk of heart attack, stroke
There may be an immediate risk of having a stroke or heart attack after drinking any alcohol, but moderate intake produces some protective health benefits within 24 hours.
Is disinfectant necessary for safe drinking water?
A difference has emerged between some Western European countries and the US regarding the use of residual disinfectants to offer safe drinking water.
End to contaminated drinking water
As things stand, a suspected contamination of drinking water requires that a technician first be sent out to take samples from the water supply.

Related Drinking Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.