What is vasopressin?


Generic Name: Vasopressin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is vasopressin used for?

Vasopressin is a man-made form of a hormone called “anti-diuretic hormone” that is normally secreted by the pituitary gland. Vasopressin acts on the kidneys and blood vessels.

Vasopressin helps prevent loss of water from the body by reducing urine output and helping the kidneys reabsorb water into the body. Vasopressin also raises blood pressure by narrowing blood vessels.

Vasopressin is used to treat diabetes insipidus, which is caused by a lack of this naturally occurring pituitary hormone in the body. Vasopressin is also used to treat or prevent certain conditions of the stomach after surgery or during abdominal x-rays.

Vasopressin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

How should I take vasopressin?

Vasopressin is injected into a muscle or under the skin. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Vasopressin is usually given as needed every 3 to 4 hours. The time interval between doses will depend on how your body responds to the medication.

To treat diabetes insipidus, vasopressin is sometimes given into the nose by nasal spray or medicine dropper, or insertion of a cotton pad that has been soaked in vasopressin.

When used for abdominal x-ray, vasopressin injections are usually given at 2 hours before and 30 minutes before your x-ray. Your doctor may also recommend you receive an enema before you receive your first dose of vasopressin.

Vasopressin can cause temporary side effects such as nausea, stomach pain, or “blanching” of your skin (such as pale spots when you press on the skin).

Drinking 1 or 2 glasses of water each time you receive an injection may help ease these side effects.

While using vasopressin, you may need frequent blood tests. Your heart function may also need to be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG).

Follow your doctor’s instructions about the amount of liquids you should drink during your treatment with vasopressin. In some cases, drinking too much liquid can be as unsafe as not drinking enough.

How do I store vasopressin?

Vasopressin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store vasopressin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of vasopressin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush vasopressin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using vasopressin?

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of Vasostrict™ in children with vasodilatory shock. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of Pitressin® in children with diabetes insipidus and abdominal distension.


Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of Vasostrict™ have not been performed in the geriatric population, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving Vasostrict™.

No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of Pitressin® in geriatric patients.

Is it safe to take vasopressin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of vasopressin?

Some people receiving vasopressin have had an immediate reaction to the medication. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel weak, nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, or have a fast heartbeat, chest tightness, or weak breathing just after receiving vasopressin.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • slow or uneven heart rate;
  • gasping or trouble breathing;
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
  • tingling or loss of feeling in your hands or feet;
  • skin changes or discoloration;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • feeling light-headed, fainting; or
  • severe nausea or stomach pain.

Less serious side effects may be more likely to occur, such as:

  • mild stomach pain, bloating, or gas;
  • dizziness; or
  • throbbing headache.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with vasopressin?

Vasopressin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Levomethadyl
  • Mesoridazine
  • Pimozide
  • Terfenadine
  • Thioridazine
  • Ziprasidone

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acecainide
  • Ajmaline
  • Amiodarone
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amoxapine
  • Aprindine
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Astemizole
  • Azimilide
  • Bretylium
  • Chloral Hydrate
  • Chloroquine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Dibenzepin
  • Disopyramide
  • Dofetilide
  • Dothiepin
  • Doxepin
  • Droperidol
  • Encainide
  • Enflurane
  • Erythromycin
  • Flecainide
  • Fluconazole
  • Fluoxetine
  • Foscarnet
  • Furosemide
  • Gemifloxacin
  • Halofantrine
  • Halothane
  • Hydroquinidine
  • Ibutilide
  • Imipramine
  • Indomethacin
  • Isoflurane
  • Isradipine
  • Lidoflazine
  • Lorcainide
  • Mefloquine
  • Nortriptyline
  • Octreotide
  • Pentamidine
  • Pirmenol
  • Prajmaline
  • Probucol
  • Procainamide
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Propafenone
  • Protriptyline
  • Quinidine
  • Sematilide
  • Sotalol
  • Spiramycin
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Tedisamil
  • Telithromycin
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Trimethoprim
  • Trimipramine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Zolmitriptan

Does food or alcohol interact with vasopressin?

Vasopressin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with vasopressin?

Vasopressin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • coronary artery disease (hardened arteries);
  • heart disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • asthma;
  • migraine headaches; or
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of vasopressin for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Diabetes Insipidus:

5 units to 10 units intramuscularly or subcutaneously 2 to 4 times a day.

Continuous IV infusion: 0.0005 units/kg/hour; double dosage as needed every 30 minutes to a maximum of 0.01 units/kg/hour.

Vasopressin can also be administered intranasally on cotton pledgets, by nasal spray, or by dropper. When vasopressin is administered intranasally by spray or on pledgets, the dosage must be individually titrated for each patient.

Usual Adult Dose for Postoperative Gas Pains:

5 units intramuscularly once.

This dose may be doubled and repeated at three to four hour intervals as needed to prevent or relieve postoperative abdominal distention.

These recommendations apply also to distention complicating pneumonia or other acute toxemias.

Usual Adult Dose for Abdominal Distension Prior to Abdominal X-ray:

10 units intramuscularly once 2 hours prior to X-ray and once again 30 minutes prior to X-ray.

Usual Adult Dose for Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage:

0.2 to 0.4 units/min by continuous intravenous infusion. Then titrate dose as needed (maximum dose: 0.8 units/minute); if bleeding stops, continue at same dose for 12 hours, then taper off over 24 to 48 hours.

What is the dose of vasopressin for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Diabetes Insipidus:

2.5 units to 10 units intramuscularly once.

This dose may be repeated 2 to 3 times a day as needed.

Alternatively, a vasopressin infusion at 0.0005 units/kg/hour may be administered and titrated to restrict urine output and maintain a more concentrated urine.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Esophageal Varices with Bleeding:

Continuous IV infusion:

Initial: 0.002-0.005 units/kg/minute; titrate dose as needed; maximum dose: 0.01 units/kg/minute.

Alternative: Initial: 0.1 units/minute; increase by 0.05 units/minute to a maximum of:

less than 5 years: 0.2 units/minute

5 to 12 years: 0.3 units/minute

over 12 years: 0.4 units/minute

If bleeding stops for 12 hours, then taper off over 24 to 48 hours.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Asystole:

Limited data available: 0.4 units/kg IV after traditional resuscitation methods and at least two doses of epinephrine have been administered; Note: Due to insufficient evidence, no formal recommendations for or against the routine use of vasopressin during pediatric cardiac arrest are provided.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Ventricular Fibrillation:

Limited data available: 0.4 units/kg IV after traditional resuscitation methods and at least two doses of epinephrine have been administered; Note: Due to insufficient evidence, no formal recommendations for or against the routine use of vasopressin during pediatric cardiac arrest are provided.

How is vasopressin available?

Vasopressin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Injection 20 units/mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of vasopressin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017