Type 1 diabetes and eating disorders are closely associated with each other, which further adds to a diabetic’s complications. Besides, the presence of twin-disorder makes management of diabetes an even more difficult task. Consequences of eating disorders may be short and/or long-term health problems such as cardiovascular and heart disease.
[Read: Tips to Prevent Type 1 Diabetes]
Why do Diabetics Develop Eating Disorder?
There are several eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating that have been associated with type 1 diabetes and which may or may not contribute to the disease but hinder its management.
The possible reasons of developing an eating disorder include unhealthy and excessive preoccupation with one’s body’s appearance/food, periods of dieting and overeating, increased mood changes (irritability), excessive involvement in exercise and depression. Extreme fluctuations in blood glucose levels and persistent high HbA levels contribute to eating disorders.
Medical Risks of Eating Disorders in Diabetes
Diabetics with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, often end up with dangerous behaviours such as dieting, binging and adjusting insulin dosage. In an attempt to avoid weight gain, diabetics often misuse insulin dosages, only to increase blood sugar or putting themselves at risk of urine problems.
The improper use of insulin or binging for diabetics with eating disorders may result in medical complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, improper blood circulation and eyesight damage. Furthermore, the diabetics with eating disorders are at an increased risk of retinopathy i.e. permanent damage to the retina of the eye.
Seeking Medical Assistance for Eating Disorder
If you are a diabetic and suspect an eating disorder, it is very important to seek help. You may visit an endocrinologist or a general practitioner (GP), diabetes educator, dietician, social worker or psychologist on how to deal with the medical.
The medical professional will recommend restricting food intake, getting over feelings of depression/anxiety and treatment of hypos (low blood glucose levels) by additional sugar and carbohydrates intake.
Both the disorders, be it type 1 diabetes or eating disorders, emphasise on weight management and diet control as the complications of type 1 diabetes and eating disorders together may become fatal or critical.
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