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Diabulimia - Should You Be Worried About It?

Written and reviewed by
Diploma in Diabetology
Endocrinologist, Mumbai  •  9 years experience
Diabulimia - Should You Be Worried About It?

Diabulimia is an eating disorder often associated with Type-1 Diabetes. Also referred to as ED-DMT1, not many people are aware of this non-clinical term. It is a well known fact that many people with Type-1 diabetes require the daily administration of insulin. In the case of Diabulimia, a person having Type-1 diabetes purposely manipulates with the insulin dosage in an endeavour to lose weight. In some extreme cases, a person may completely avoid the use of insulin.

You need no rocket science to understand the impact diabulimia will have on a diabetic patient (Type-1) who is entirely dependent on insulin. Some of the lethal consequences of diabulimia include

  1. Yeast infections: Manipulating with the appropriate dosage of insulin can trigger an abnormal rise in the blood glucose level (Hyperglycemia), some of which gets eliminated out through the urine, thereby enabling a person to lose weight. However, the high glucose level is just the ideal and favorable condition for yeast growth. The hyperglycemic condition will result in increased yeast infections. The infection can be very uncomfortable and annoying. In fact, there will be repeated yeast infections until the blood glucose level comes down to the normal range.
  2. Ketoacidosis: As already mentioned, diabulimia devoids the body of insulin. As a result, glucose is unable to enter the body cells (glucose is an important fuel for the muscles and the other cells and tissues of the body). In its absence, the body starts looking for alternate sources. Gradually the body starts breaking down fats to get the desired energy. Increased breakdown of fats results in accumulation of ketone bodies in the bloodstream, a condition medically termed as Ketoacidosis or Diabetic Ketoacidosis. The condition if left untreated can be harmful triggering Cerebral Edema (a condition characterized by a swelling of the brain), Hypokalemia (low potassium level) or even Hypoglycemia.
  3. Diabetic retinopathy: Hyperglycemia can spell doom for your eyes. The accumulation and buildup of high levels of glucose in the eyes often damage the retinal blood vessels, a condition known as Diabetic Retinopathy. There may not be any early signs associated with the condition. However, diabetic retinopathy can give rise to many serious complications such as Glaucoma (characterized by severe damage to the optic nerve), Vitreous Hemorrhage (the blood leaks into the areas adjacent to the vitreous humor of the eye), or even Blindness. There may also be a Retinal Detachment.
  4. Renal failure: One of the common and harmful consequences of diabulimia is the kidney failure. Increased concentration of glucose in the kidneys often damages the filtration units of the kidneys called the Glomeruli (increased glucose blocks the capillaries of the kidney) leading to kidney damage and failure.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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