Signs & Symptoms of Diabulimia
Diabulimia is a serious eating disorder that can lead to extremely dangerous medical consequences if left untreated. It can be hard to recognize the signs that someone is struggling with this eating disorder.
It is common for people with diabetes to feel sick or not want to eat because maintaining their insulin can be difficult. For that reason symptoms associated with diabulimia may go unnoticed by family and friends, making diagnosis slightly more challenging.
One of the most significant concerns with diabulimia is that severe complications can arise from incorrectly taking insulin, not to mention the mental suffering that is associated with an untreated eating disorder. This makes the need for proper care and treatment of the utmost importance.
Effects of Diabulimia
The human body is resilient, and people with diabulimia can often function in ways that allow them to mask their elevated blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar levels usually cause most people to feel sick and unable to perform regular activities. However, those with diabetes may learn to carry out routine tasks even when their blood sugar is abnormally high.
There are significant consequences of prolonged high blood sugar levels that are usually related to the complications of diabetes, and they're often severe or irreversible. For that reason, early detection is essential for proper treatment.
Here are the acute and chronic side effects of diabulimia: (4)
- Weight loss
- Increased urination
- Excessive hunger
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Dry skin
- Slow wound healing
- Staph and other bacterial infections
- Yeast infections
- Muscle atrophy
- Menstrual disruption
- Severe dehydration
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis
- Retinopathy (can lead to blindness)
- Macular Edema
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Vasovagal Syncope (nervous system dysfunction)
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
Healthcare professionals agree that more research needs to be done about diabulimia and the related medical and psychological disorders associated with this eating disorder. (2)
In a survey published by the National Institute of Health, they identified three main factors in why patients restrict their insulin for weight loss: (2)
- Body image dissatisfaction
- Hate of diabetes diagnosis
Mental health professionals associate these factors with mental illnesses that lead to these disordered eating behaviors. These intrusive and painful, obsessive behaviors must be addressed when a patient seeks help for diabulimia so that the patient can begin to heal.
We recommend patients and their loved ones looking for help try to be honest about their feelings associated with diabulimia. Withholding physical or psychological side effects, or disordered eating behaviors may put the patient at risk of complications that can lead to equally serious medical conditions, such as: (2)
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Vascular diseases
- Diabetic ketoacidosis and death