Published: 07/10/2013 - Updated: 08/14/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
Eating disorders cause deterioration in the body overall, which slowly decreases our health. If disorders like bulimia come to fruition with type 1 diabetes, it can be a highly dangerous combination. Learning to distinguish what the causes and symptoms are is the key to prevent this dangerous combination and thus avoid its serious effects.
What is Diabulimia?
This combination of conditions is known colloquially as "Diabulimia" and is defined as the partial or total failure of the dose of insulin needed to regulate glucose in the body in order to lose weight, a highly dangerous practice for people suffering from type 1 diabetes.
In cases of bulimia, people often resort to other methods to control their weight, such as laxatives, vomiting or excessive exercise, but when talking about Diabulimia, this is a combination of symptoms such as exaggerated and constant worry about weight and shape, people with this disease turn to weight control by controlled administration of insulin.
People with Diabulimia try to hide this practice by hiding prescriptions, ensuring their family and doctors don’t see them and recording high levels of glycosylated hemoglobin. It is very important to know the risks of the disease to prevent it from becoming a common practice or to find guidance and support for relatives who have it or who are at risk.
How can it jeopardise our health?
When we have a disease like diabetes, there is a lack or insufficient production of the hormone insulin, which is essential for proper metabolism and absorption of glucose by the body's cells. When the body does not get sufficient amounts of insulin, it uses fat metabolism in the body as an energy source, which causes a decrease in weight.
If there is not sufficient natural production of insulin, it is necessary to make applications (shots) via subcutaneous methods to prevent the body making use of metabolic change (energy production by fat). It is because these doses are mainly administered by the person with type 1 diabetes, they may themselves force the body to metabolize fats if applicable an amount below what has been indicated and thereby cause weight loss.
This change is known as "diabetic ketoacidosis" and is essential to avoid because it causes the production of ketones in the body which can accumulate and are one of the principle causes of diabetic comas.
Learning to overcome the disease
- Create a proper eating plan: visit a nutritionist that can give you a diet that fits your needs
- Go to an endocrinologist: he/she will able to tell you the exact dose of insulin required by your body, as well as maintain a constant check to avoid you from developing this problem.
- Psychological therapy: because it is an emotional disorder that needs therapy to help you overcome any fears or negative thoughts toward your body.
- The family is an irreplaceable support system: If you are a parent or relative of a person with this disease, it is very important to learn to listen and guide them. If you are suffering, draw them near and try to go together to therapies to help improve the communication and sharing of the problem, in order to overcome it.
- Since it is or consists of the characteristics of an eating disorder, it is very important to treat this disease thoroughly. It is therefore advisable to go to a clinic that specialises in treating these conditions.
Fortunately Diabulimia is treatable and curable, but it is necessary to start treating thoroughly as soon as it is detected, i.e. not just the symptoms or consequences but in the emotional realm too, recognising the problem is the first step in addressing it.
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