Although not yet officially recognised as a medical condition, diabulimia is nevertheless a serious and emerging problem.
Experts predict that as many as one-third of young female diabetics could be suffering as a result of this condition.
What is ‘diabulimia’?
Diabulimia is a term created to represent a condition of diabetic bulimia.
The condition occurs when insulin-dependant diabetics skip injection in order to lose weight. This type of disorder usually affects type 1 diabetics.
Young diabetics, who already have numerous issues to deal with, realise the potential weight loss possible by skipping insulin, without understanding how much they are damaging their bodies.
How does diabulimia work?
Diabetics who are reliant on insulin find that it is a storage hormone, and promotes fat. If patients miss injections, or manipulate dosage, they could theoretically reduce weight.
Diabetics can continue to manage their disease, but neither safely nor effectively.
Diabetic patients could avoid ketoacidosis and obvious signs of management failure, without realising the extent of damage that they are causing.
Why is it called diabulimia?
The term, itself relatively recent, refers to a combination of diabetes and bulimia, a common eating disorder.
In America, the phenomena is well known, and even recognised by the American Diabetes Association. Insulin omission is often seen in young girls.
How does diabulimia affect the body?
The side effects of manipulating and omitting insulin from the body can be serious and dangerous.
Blood sugar levels can surge and reach an unhealthy level, leading to fatigue, dehydration and eventually wearing of the muscle tissue. Over a long-term, the symptoms are the same as badly managed diabetes.
These can include complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney disease and further damage.
How does one treat diabulimia?
Diabulimia should be treated with psychological care and close monitoring. Early prevention is key to avoid long-term damage to the diabetic patient.