The ADH blood test is used to detect the presence of an anitdiuretic hormone issue. It is a diagnostic test that is not widely used, but can be combined with a series of other tests to determine if there is a health issue that may need to be addressed. Diabetes insipidus is directly related to an ADH deficiency and may indicate the presence of a serious illness, disease, or genetic condition.
This blood test is typically ordered when someone is experiencing frequent urination that is waking them up frequently at night and difficult to control. There may also be additional symptoms, such as a headache, vomiting, a feeling of confusion, and even convulsions in severe cases. Frequent thirst and urination, however, is what typically triggers the ADH blood test.
A medical provider may order that fasting, which includes water deprivation, happen before the blood sample is collected. This may help to determine a more accurate measurement of how much ADH is being secreted.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
Most people who have the ADH blood test, even when they have bothersome symptoms, will typically have a normal result. This means the body is producing the right levels of antidiuretic hormone and that there is some other issue behind the thirst and/or frequent urination that is happening.
If the results are lower than normal, then this deficiency is often in relation to diabetes insipidus. This condition decreases the amount of the hormone the body uses to conduct the action of the kidneys and causes larger amounts of urine that is extremely diluted to be produced. Water deprivation can help a medical provider determine what type of diabetes inspidus is present.
Higher than normal results can happen for a number of reasons. The most common issue is a simple electrolyte imbalance. If sodium, chloride, or potassium levels are out of balance, then more hormones may be produced. If this is not the case, then higher levels of ADH may indicate the presence of thyroid disease, liver disease, or even congestive heart failure. It has also been linked to some cancers of the lungs, brain, pancreas, and bladder.
Moderate, but not severe, increases in ADH may also be associated with an inherited condition. Individuals with cystic fibrosis or nervous system disorders like epilepsy have been known to have moderately high hormone levels. HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis may also cause the same result. Individuals with multiple sclerosis may also have higher levels of ADH.
Here’s What You Need to Know
Personal lifestyle habits can dramatically affect the amount of ADH that the body is able to produce. There are several ways to stimulate higher than normal levels of this hormone that could mimic serious test results. That includes the use of certain drugs, including barbiturates and morphine. Smokers have higher levels of ADH regularly because of the nicotine to which they expose themselves.
There are certain over the counter drugs that also stimulate ADH production. The most common drugs are NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Metformin is also known to affect ADH levels.
Certain drugs may also decrease ADH levels. Lithium is the most common drug that affects hormone levels, but phenytoin and ethanol have also been shown to change results.
Should I Have an ADH Blood Test?
Most people will not have an ADH blood test ordered. It is not useful as a general screening test and the average person will never need to have this test completed. Special equipment is necessary to analyze the results of this test, so not every medical provider has a laboratory that can generate results.
It is important to realize that diabetes insipidus is not the same as diabetes mellitus.
The similarity in name is due to the similarity in physical symptoms alone.
People with diabetes insipidus that is discovered through tests like the ADH blood test can have their condition treated with a synthetic form of ADH. For certain types of diabetes insipidus, a medical provider may simply suggest drinking enough water every day to make sure fluids are being adequately replaced. Dietary changes may be necessary as well to encourage water retention. Serious conditions will be treated based on the diagnosis provided.
Only a medical provider can tell someone what the ADH blood test results mean in relation to their unique medical history. Be sure to use this guide to ask questions of a doctor about what your individual antidiuretic hormone levels mean and what treatment options may be available to you today.