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:

Alcohol marketing and underage drinking
A new study by a research team including scientists from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation provides a systematic review of research that examines relationships between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol use behaviors among adolescents and young adults.
Which came first: Brain size or drinking propensity?
Contrary to the belief that drinking can literally shrink one's brain, a new study that includes researchers from Arts & Sciences suggests that a small brain might be a risk factor for heavier alcohol consumption.
Frequent drinking is greater risk factor for heart rhythm disorder than binge drinking
Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, according to research published today in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Binge drinking may be more damaging to women
In a recently published study examining the effects of binge drinking on rats, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that female rats who were of equal age and weight to male rats were more sensitive to alcohol and experienced alcoholic liver injury at a higher rate than male rats.
What predicts college students' drinking habits? How much they think others are drinking
A new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University examined students' genetic risk of alcohol use, roommates' drinking habits and the perception of peer drinking.
Drinking diplomacy
Using newly discovered archival materials, Igor Fedyukin of the Higher School of Economics, in collaboration with Robert Collis (Drake University) and Ernest A.
College drinking intervention strategies need a refresh
Peer approval is the best indicator of the tendency for new college students to drink or smoke according to new research from Michigan State University.
The five types of problem drinking are more common at different ages
Alcohol abuse is more complicated than simply drinking too much.
Drinking changes young adults' metabolite profile
Adolescent drinking is associated with changes in the metabolite profile, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital shows.
Lay interventions for depression and drinking
Brief psychological interventions delivered by lay counselors in primary care were effective and cost-effective for patients with depression and harmful drinking in India, according to two studies in PLOS Medicine by Vikram Patel of Harvard Medical School, USA, and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK and Sangath, India.
More Drinking News and Drinking Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.