How does T1DE affect your health?

Eating disorders can seriously affect your psychological and physical health (right now and in the future too).

Physical health effectsEmotional and social effects
Reducing or avoiding taking your insulin means that glucose will build up quickly in your blood (hyperglycaemia.)  You might notice tiredness, thirst and more trips to the toilet to pee, as well as poor concentration, irritability and sleep disturbance.
Click here to learn more about hyperglycaemia.
T1DE has the potential to impact on a person’s education or work performance due to time away periods of illness and treatment.  This can impact a person’s achievement in education or progression at work and have a financial impact.
Running glucose levels high without insulin to bring them down can send the body into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can be very serious.  Click here to learn more about DKAT1DE can impact the relationships you have with yourself and others.
 
T1DE can cause people to withdraw from previously enjoyed social events and activities. Feelings of low self-worth, guilt, shame and anxiety about being around others in the presence of food for fear of discovery or judgement as well as a need to make time for the preoccupation with eating disorder-led thoughts can be common.
 
Your friends, family and colleagues might be very concerned about how you are managing your diabetes, or about your eating patterns, and might find it difficult to talk to you about it in ways that you feel comfortable with.  This can contribute to conflict and drive further avoidance and withdrawal.
Dehydration is more common in those with raised glucose levels and ketones.  Dehydration is a risk factor for developing DKA.T1DE is associated with a variety of emotions including fear, relief, shame, guilt, pride and anger. 
In the longer term not taking insulin can risk damaging your vision, your kidneys, and the nerves in your feet and stomach. Click here to find out more about the longer term complications of diabetes.Long-term high glucose levels and eating disorders can negatively affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. Being short on sleep can cause problems with decision-making, planning, use of information and problem-solving – all important aspects of the frequent decisions about self-care that are necessary for living with type 1 diabetes.
Insulin and / or food restriction can contribute to starvation which can negatively impact heart health and circulation, how your muscles and brain work as well as your blood chemistry.  In the longer term it can affect your bone health.
Vomiting as a means of purging can seriously affect your mouth health.  The acid in vomit can damage your teeth, gums and other tissues.  Damage to the oesophagus can cause persistent reflux.

Vomiting and the use of laxatives and / or diuretics can affect your potassium levels which can impair muscle (especially heart) function, cause abdominal cramping or bloating, thirst and frequent urination.
 
Laxatives used over a long period can start to affect the way your bowel muscles work.
High glucose levels (and also starvation) can impact on brain function.  You might find difficulties with concentration, memory and thinking clearly.

This might all sound a bit scary or overwhelming and it is not uncommon for people to tell themselves these things aren’t happening or won’t happen to them.  However, a chance to reflect on the impact an eating disorder might be having and how this might be at odds with what matters to you and what you want to stand for in your life (your values) can be motivating towards change.


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