Diabulimia: What It Is, Symptoms and Treatment

Diabulimia: What It Is, Symptoms and Treatment

The diabulimia is a popular term used to describe an eating disorder that is severe can arise in people with type 1 diabetes. In this disorder, the person, intentionally, reduces or stops taking the amount of insulin needed to control your blood sugar levels, with the goal of losing weight.

As in type 1 diabetes the body fails to produce any amount of insulin, when the person does not manage the required amount, it can lead to several serious complications that can leave life at risk.

Thus, people with type 1 diabetes who are taking a smaller quantity of insulin should consult a psychologist to assess if you have this disorder, in order to start the most appropriate treatment and avoid health complications.

How to identify

The diabulimia is usually not easily identifiable, especially by other people. However, the person may be suspicious that you have this disorder when it presents the following characteristics:

  • Has type 1 diabetes;
  • Reduces the amount of insulin or omits quite a few doses;
  • You’re afraid that insulin may cause weight gain.


In addition, as the person does not take insulin to lower sugar levels in the blood, may also arise related signals with the increase of the amount of sugar in the blood that include dry mouth, thirst, fatigue, frequent drowsiness, and headaches.

A form of suspect diabulimia is to compare the readings of blood sugar levels in a previous period, noting currently it is easier to introduce uncontrolled levels of sugar in the blood. This is because, generally, people with type 1 diabetes, that make a correct use of insulin, are able to maintain the levels of blood glucose very well controlled.

What causes the diabulimia

The diabulimia is a psychological disorder that develops from an irrational fear that the person with type 1 diabetes must use insulin can cause weight gain.

Thus, the person begins by reducing the units of the doses of insulin and may even end up omitting several doses throughout the day.

How is it treated

Since it is a psychological disorder the diabulimia should be discussed with a psychologist, the first to confirm the diagnosis and then to start the most appropriate treatment. However, other health care professionals who are accustomed to dealing with diabetes, such as nutritionists or endocrinologists, must also be part of the treatment process.

Typically, the treatment plan is started with sessions of psychotherapy to help the person to have a body image own more positive and demystify the relationship of the use of insulin with the weight changes.


Depending on the degree of the disorder, it may still be necessary to make a control on a more regular basis in the endocrinologist, as well as to involve the whole family to help the person through this phase.

Possible complications

For being an eating disorder, diabulimia is a very serious situation that can put their life at risk. The first complications of this disorder are directly related to the increased levels of sugar in the blood that end up hindering the healing of wounds, facilitating the emergence of infections and leading to dehydration.

Already the long-term, complications may appear even more serious, such as:

  • Progressive loss of vision;
  • Swelling of the eyes;
  • Loss of sensitivity in the fingers of feet and hands;
  • The amputation of feet or hands;
  • Diarrhea chronic;
  • Kidney disease and liver.

In addition, as there is a lack of insulin in the blood, the body cannot absorb properly the nutrients of the food ingested, and ultimately leave the body in a situation of malnutrition and famine that, along with the other complications you can leave the person in a coma, and even lead to death.

Diabulimia What It Is, Symptoms and Treatment 1