The Connection Between Eating Disorders And Diabetes

Food is our operating system’s fuel, so what you decide to put into your body makes a huge difference on how you function each day. For those suffering from a debilitating eating disorder, approximately 8 million people in the United States, a relationship with food is exactly the problem.

When an eating disorder is wrecking havoc on an individual’s body, any number of complications can ensue. Diabetes is one of those problems that inevitably creates further health risk.

What is Diabetes Exactly?

More than 20 million people in the United States are currently living with diabetes, a chronic disease characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood. Overall, the pancreas is either not producing enough insulin, or the body has difficulty in effectively using the insulin that is produced.

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when a person’s body is not producing enough insulin to break down sugar. Daily injections of insulin are needed to maintain typical functioning and the body’s metabolism of sugar. Type 1 is most often diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults because the problem is recognized early on.

Type 2 Diabetes is more common than Type 1. The onset is more often in adulthood, and is highly correlated with body weight. As obesity rates go up, so do the number of Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses.

The symptoms of each type of diabetes show up in the same ways when sugar levels in the blood get too high. Blurry vision, fatigue, hunger, extreme thirst, weight loss, and constant urination indicate diabetes.

The complications possible from diabetes include:

  • Eye problems, including trouble seeing (especially at night) and light sensitivity.
  • Potential blindness.
  • Painful sores and infections, often on the lower extremities. Foot and leg amputation can become necessary.
  • Nerve damage throughout the body causing pain, tingling, or a loss of feeling and sensation.
  • When nerve damage has occurred, digestion can be impaired, causing bowel issues.
  • Nerve damage can also cause erectile dysfunction in men.

The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Diabetes

When blood sugar levels need to be constantly monitored, and everything that you put into your body changes the blood sugar level, not eating, overeating, or binging and purging can create severe medical complications for those who have both diabetes and an eating disorder.

The connection between overeating to the point of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes is more clear. Being overweight is the main cause of Type 2 Diabetes. The connection between anorexia or bulimia and diabetes is a little more complicated.

The initial diagnosis of diabetes can be triggered by a drastic weight loss. To avoid weight gain that comes from sugar level regulation, many individuals who are diabetic and suffering from an eating disorder will under use the insulin needed for healthy functioning. Blood sugar then spills over into their urine, which is positively perceived as weight loss, but actually indicates that body tissue is dissolving.

Blood Circulation Issues

Kidney failure, heart disease, eye problems, and blood circulation difficulties are the real consequences of untreated eating disorders in diabetics.

The need for help is very real. If you, or someone you care about, is showing signs of an eating disorder, and he or she has been diagnosed with diabetes, find a treatment center now. The combination of the two disorders will only create health problems. While Type 1 Diabetes is not curable, an eating disorder can be treated properly so that a diabetic can accurately manage his or her diabetes.

Jared Friedman is passionate about helping people with food issues, learn more about his work with Sovereign Health a dual diagnosis treatment center helping people with substance issues and behavioral issues like eating disorders

Image Credit: 1, 2, 3.

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