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Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Desmopressin

Desmopressin is a synthetic version of vasopressin, the anti-diuretic hormone in the human body.

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Desmopressin is the active ingredient of DDAVP.

General information

Desmopressin is a synthetic version of vasopressin, the anti-diuretic hormone in the human body. It is used to diagnose and treat diabetes insipidus, a condition characterised by frequent, excessive urination and extreme thirst.

Desmopressin is effective to reduce urine while you sleep and is often used (primarily as a nasal spray although the tablets are also effective) for the short term treatment (4-8 weeks) of bedwetting in both adults and children. It is estimated that those taking this medication are almost five times more likely to stay dry.

Sodium levels in the body may however be affected and a dangerous imbalance may occur. This may result in seizures or even death, and desmopressin should be used be used with caution, especially in children. The prescribed dose should not be exceeded.

This medication should be discontinued during periods of nausea and vomiting.

How does desmopressin work?

Desmopressin works by increasing the re-sorption of water in the kidney, thereby reducing the amount of water that is excreted in urine.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: desmopressin is available as tablets, nasal spray and injection

What does it do? desmopressin reduces urine at night, or excessive amounts of urine

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is desmopressin available as a generic? no

Is desmopressin available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 30 - 90 minutes

Duration of action: tablets: up to 8 hours; nasal spray: up to 12 hours

Dietary advice: Fluid intake may need to be monitored as directed by your doctor

Stopping this medicine: This medication should not be stopped without consulting your prescriber; symptoms may recur.

Prolonged use: Sodium levels should be monitored closely.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • if you have decreased kidney function.
  • if you have cardiovascular disease
  • if you have cystic fibrosis
  • if you have fluid and electrolyte imbalance
  • if you are at risk of developing raised pressure inside the skull
  • if you have high blood pressure
  • if you have asthma
  • if you have epilepsy
  • If you are taking other medication
  • If you are allergic to desmopressin

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: This medication is safe for use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: This medication is safe for use in children at the recommended dose. Sodium levels should be monitored in children

The elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as sodium levels should be monitored

Driving and hazardous work: No special precautions need to be taken.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication

Possible side effects:

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

headache

x

x

stomach ache

x

x

nausea and vomiting

x

x

blocked nose

x

x

nosebleeds

x

x

convulsions

x

x

increased body weight

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions:

alcohol

decrease effect of desmopressin

nicotine

abnormal heart rhythms; Low blood pressure

carbamazepine

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

chlorpropamide

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

clofibrate

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

demeclocycline

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

fludricortisone

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

heparin

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

indomethacin

increased effect of desmopressin; toxicity may occur

lithium

may decrease effect on urine reducing effect

noradrenaline

may decrease effect on urine reducing effect

tricyclic antidepressants

may increase effect on urine reducing effect

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have decreased kidney function, cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, are at risk of developing raised pressure inside the skull, high blood pressure, asthma, or if you have epilepsy.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of an intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include convulsions.

Recommended dosage

Adults, diabetes insipidus: Oral, initially 0.1 mg 3 times daily, adjusted to a maximum of 1.2 mg/day in 3 divided doses. Intranasal, 10-20 mcg 1-2 times a day.

Bedwetting in patients under the age of 65: 0.2-0.4 mg at bedtime.

Children, diabetes insipidus: Oral, initially 0.1 mg 3 times a day, adjusted to a maximum of 1.2 mg/day in 3 divided doses. Intranasal, 5-10 mcg 1-2 times a day.

Bedwetting in children over 5 years: Intranasal, 10-40 mcg given at bedtime; Oral, 0.2 -0.4 mg at bedtime.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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