Bulimia Nervosa starts as an obsession about one’s weight, and overall physical appearance. It progresses into eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, followed by vomiting to control their calorie intake. It’s a self destructive behavior that attempts to control weight loss without changing eating habits. Sometimes bulimics try to control their calories by taking laxatives or through excessive exercise. But the basis for all Bulimia is a general dislike of their body, and an overly critical perspective on themselves.
Recognizing the Signs of Bulimia Nervosa
1%-3% of women and girls in the U.S. struggle with Bulimia at some point in their life. You can recognize the symptoms if you see binging, or eating a larger than normal amount of food. Sometimes bulimics will eat until it hurts. Purging right after a meal or a binge is common among bulimics. If someone is excessively throwing up, on a regular basis, it is likely they are bulimic.Other signs of bulimia are swollen cheeks, mouth sores, dehydration, fatigue, menstrual problems or a loss of menstruation, and dry skin. Behavioral signs of bulimia nervosa include an unrealistic body image, excessive dieting or exercising, hoarding food, and depression.
Effects of Bulimia on the Body
The damage bulimia inflicts on the body is devastating and widespread throughout the body. The heart is affected by excessive vomiting, and electrolyte imbalances. The teeth and gums are broken down by the stomach acid that comes up when vomiting leading to cavities, tooth chipping, gingivitis, and the eventual loss of enamel on the teeth. Besides the teeth, the throat and mouth are damaged by the stomach acid. Many bulimics have sores in their mouth and throat from the vomiting.
Gastrointestinal problems can arise from the use of laxatives repeatedly. The esophagus and stomach lining are irritated from vomiting, and a rupture can even occur causing internal bleeding. All of these problems can be made worse by a constant use of medications to induce vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics.
Treatment for Bulimia
Because of all the potential health problems bulimics expose themselves to, medical attention and sometimes hospital emergency care is needed. Many times, a trip to the ER is just the thing a bulimic needs to demonstrate the dangers of their behavior. If the patient can take care of any critical medical issues, they can then move on to the real therapy.
There are a couple simultaneous therapies a bulimic needs – behavioral and nutritional. Cognitive behavior therapy is especially helpful for people with bulimia nervosa. It helps them deal with the thoughts that contribute to bulimia, the negative body image, and even family therapy.
Nutritional therapy involves dieticians giving patients new meal plans, and healthy ways to control weight. This shows the individual that there is a healthy way to eat while still maintaining or losing weight.
Bulimia Nervosa is a serious potentially life threatening disease. If you think you or someone you know may struggle with Bulimia Nervosa, contact a medical professional or a nutritionist for help.