Woman with Type 1 Loses Teeth Because of Diabulimia

An Australian woman who wrestles with diabulimia has gone public to share the physical toll the disorder has taken on her body. In a Daily Mail Australia report, Skye Simpson shared how skipping insulin injections has left her with blurred vision, bald patches, and no teeth.

Simpson first began to skip insulin after she was complimented for her looks following an illness. She says at first she just skipped an injection a day, but within a few weeks she had stopped taking insulin completely.

She started experiencing symptoms of the stress that uncontrolled high blood sugar was causing on her body, including blurred vision and loss of hair. According to Simpson, she claims that even though she was in and out of the hospital, doctors weren’t aware of the real reason for her illnesses. She then contracted an infection that forced doctors to remove her teeth. Eventually she went back to insulin injections, although it is clear in her comments that she is still struggling with body image and self-esteem issues.

It seems surprising that doctors didn’t pick up on what was happening as Simpson was in the hospital. One possibility is that she may have started taking insulin again before entering the hospital to mask her chronically high blood sugar levels. Another possibility is that the doctors weren’t well-versed in Type 1 diabetes or diabulimia, which is still not clinically defined or officially recognized in many medical circles.

Simpson’s story provides a clear example of how eating and body disorders can distort reality for those suffering from them. Photos of Simpson show that she maintained a trim figure while on insulin therapy, but she says she felt fat and ugly after being complimented on her looks following that first illness. Also, she was able to dismiss the physical costs of skipping insulin, even when it impacted her appearance.

Researchers have not come to agreement about what the rate of eating and body image disorders are for people with Type 1, or whether that rate is higher than for the average population.

Early symptoms of diabulimia look much like the preliminary symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, including frequent urination, constant thirst, fatigue, and an extremely large appetite. For more information on diabulimia and additional resources for treatment options, you can contact the Diabulimia Helpline here.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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