Diabulima: A Dangerous Combination

Diabetes is a well documented and researched disease with many complications both life altering and life threatening. Those with insulin dependent diabetes make up just a small percentage of the diabetic community-and even a smaller percentage have co-morbid eating disorders. This combination can have the recipe for danger if not monitored and treated closely.

Diabulima is the misuse of insulin to prevent glucose from entering our cells for absorption and use. In the insulin dependent population, patients need insulin in order for sugar to enter our cells for use and storage. With diabulimia, an insufficient amount of insulin is provided by the patient to the body, thereby causing abnormally high blood sugar levels. A starvation state follows resulting in significant weight loss.

Continuous high blood sugar levels can cause short-term effects such as dehydration, fatigue, and breakdown of muscle tissue. Over longer periods of time, individuals are at risk for developing many serious diabetic complications — including blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease.

As a community we have a responsibility to closely monitor those with insulin dependent diabetes to ensure not only proper use of insulin but nutritional intake and status to prevent the breakdown of organ tissues.

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