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Generic Name: vasopressin (VAY soe PRES in)
Brand Name: Vasostrict, Pitressin
Dosage Forms: injectable solution (20 units/mL); intravenous solution (1 unit/mL-D5%; 20 units/100 mL-D5%; 20 units/mL)

Medically reviewed by on Jan 22, 2020. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is vasopressin?

Vasopressin is used to treat diabetes insipidus, which is caused by a lack of a 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 is used in emergency settings to raise blood pressure in adults who are in shock.

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


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

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with vasopressin if you are allergic to vasopressin or chlorobutanol.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

In an emergency, you may not be able to tell caregivers about your health conditions. Make sure any doctor caring for you afterward knows you received this medicine.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Vasopressin can cause premature labor contractions if you receive this medicine during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

You should not breastfeed within 1.5 hours after you are treated with vasopressin. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out any milk you collect. Do not feed it to your baby.

How is vasopressin given?

Vasopressin is injected into a muscle, or given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

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 the medicine.

Vasopressin can cause temporary side effects such as nausea, stomach pain, or "blanching" of your skin (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.

Follow your doctor's instructions about the amount of liquids you should drink during treatment with vasopressin. You may be told to limit fluid intake. In some cases, drinking too much liquid can be as unsafe as not drinking enough.

Vasopressin is usually given as needed to help control your condition. The time interval between doses will depend on how your body responds to the medication.

You will need frequent medical tests. Your heart function may need to be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG).

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.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Because you will receive vasopressin in a medical setting, you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur. Tell your caregivers if you feel weak or drowsy, or if you have a headache.

What should I avoid while receiving vasopressin?

Drinking alcohol can make vasopressin less effective.

Vasopressin side effects

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

Tell your caregivers right away if you have:

  • numbness or tingling in your hands or feet;

  • loss of color in your lips or around your mouth;

  • numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, loss of feeling anywhere in your body;

  • unusual skin changes (sores, tightness, discoloration, pain), especially in your lower legs or feet;

  • chest pain or tightness, trouble breathing;

  • slow heart rate, weak pulse, slow breathing;

  • unusual bleeding;

  • severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting;

  • little or no urination;

  • low sodium level --headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady; or

  • symptoms of water intoxication--severe or pounding headache, severe drowsiness, feeling very weak.

Common side effects may include:

  • fast or slow heartbeats;

  • low sodium level;

  • numbness or tingling;

  • pounding in your head or ears;

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • pale skin, numbness in your fingers or toes;

  • stomach pain, gas, nausea, vomiting; or

  • sweating.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect vasopressin?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect vasopressin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.