Vasopressin is a hormone created in the hypothalamus, a vital part of the autonomic nervous system located deep inside the brain. This hormone, also called antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, is stored in the pituitary gland until it is needed by the body. A variety of medical conditions are treated with vasopressin or its synthetic equivalents.
Controls Water Balance
Vasopressin, along with thirst, controls the water balance in the body. The hormone prevents too much water from being released as urine, explains Colorado State University. Most individuals think nothing of this balancing act until they encounter adverse conditions, such as being trapped in hot conditions without water. Under these circumstances, antidiuretic hormone instructs the body to conserve water, saving the body from becoming severely dehydrated.
Drugs.com relates that a man-made form of vasopressin is used to treat some cases of diabetes insipidus, a condition in which too much water is excreted by the kidneys. This life-threatening condition is treated by an injection given every few hours until the imbalance is corrected. Vasopressin or a synthetic formulation called desmopressin may also be inhaled into the nose--via a nose dropper, spray or soaked pad. This route is often more appropriate for long-term use. Desmopressin may be given orally as well.
Increases Blood Pressure
Vasopressin, when released in large quantities into the blood stream, works to increase the arterial blood pressure. It is released into the blood stream when needed due to a decrease in blood pressure. Due to vasopressin's ability to raise blood pressure, it is sometimes given as a drip into the vein to treat emergency conditions such as vasodilatory shock, which occurs when the blood vessels dilate and dangerously lower the blood pressure. It is also used in situations in which the heart stops beating; in these instances it is given as an injection into the vein.
Limits Night-time Voiding
Vasopressin is believed to limit night-time voiding, according to the online journal, "American Family Physician." This effect is believed to be associated with human circadian rhythm, a normal rhythm of the body that allows the slowing down of certain body functions during the night. Children who urinate in the bed beyond the age of 6 may suffer from an alteration in vasopressin activity. Desmopressin is sometimes prescribed to treat bed-wetting in older children. It may be given orally; nasal use is controversial due to the risk of seizures and death.
- "Medical-Surgical Nursing"; Donna Ignatavicius, M.S., R.N. and Linda Workman, Ph.D., R.N.; 2002
- Colorado State University: Antidiuretic Hormone (Vasopressin)
- Drugs.com: Vasopressin Consumer Information
- "American Family Physician"; Nocturnal Enuresis; C. Carolyn Thiedke, MD, et al; 2003