Diabulimia: A Frightening Phenomenon


Posted on: 12 April 2018 by Elena Willson

Most of us know someone with diabetes these days. Sadly, most of us who don't have it are very ignorant of the dangers associated with both types. When a person has Type 1 Diabetes, taking insulin every single day for the rest of their lives is necessary to stay alive.

Since the pancreas no longer produces insulin, the shots of insulin help the glucose to get where it needs to be and to keep blood sugar levels stable. If the sugar levels get too high, major damage can occur including damage to the eyesight, the heart, and kidneys.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

Ketoacidosis is happening when blood sugar levels become so high that the body itself starves for energy and sets about breaking down fat and muscle to keep functioning. Ketones are then produced and unleashed into the bloodstream causing this metabolic change known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Blurred vision, hot rushes, and a peculiar breath from the patient are signs of the metabolic change taking place. It must be treated immediately or the patient's brain can become swollen and they will ultimately lapse into a coma, and death is highly likely. Although I have referenced teenage girls in this article, Diabulimia can affect people of both genders, all ages, and it can triple the risk of death.


There are evidently some psychological issues when dealing with a problem such as Diabulimia, and observing the behavior of a patient who is near and dear to you will go a long way towards a successful intervention before morbid harm can be caused. More and more our young people are falling prey to the whole destructive self-image of being slim and attractive and are deliberately not taking their insulin in an attempt to lose weight. They do lose weight and lose it very quickly although they are fully aware of the consequences of not administering their insulin in the prescribed manner. This is a frightening phenomenon. According to Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) from the University of Manitoba in Internal Medicine, these young patients, most of whom are teenage girls, are taking their insulin in quantities sufficient to stop the onset of DKA, but tweaking the dosages to still allow them to lose weight. Unfortunately, their blood sugar remains too high as a result and other above-mentioned breakdowns begin to take place. If vascular disease happens to be one of those, amputation will become necessary because of the lack of circulation to the extremities.

All of this should highlight not only the importance of establishing good self-esteem in our kids but also the need to teach them how to eat correctly from the moment they can do so.

Another excellent reference on Diabulimia is available at WebMD by Stephanie Watson and Dr Louise Chang MD.


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