Bulimia nervosa is a condition in which a person binges (eats a large amount of food in a short period of time) and purges (usually by vomiting). A person with bulimia may also abuse diet pills, laxatives and/or diuretics (water pills). It is a very serious disorder and can cause numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disorders. Without treatment, it can be deadly.
It is important to recognize the signs of bulimia as early as possible so that treatment can begin. Prompt and early treatment can help prevent permanent, serious health problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating
-Eating very large amounts of food in a short period of time, usually within an hour or two.
-Eating large amounts of food regularly with no apparent gain in weight.
-Regularly eating to the point of discomfort or pain.
-Alternating between overeating and fasting.
-Eating secretly, when no one else is around. May avoid eating in front of others.
-May avoid social situations that involve food. May plan activities in such a way that there is plenty of time alone in which to binge.
-Hiding food around the house and/or in the car.
-Food disappearing, finding numerous food wrappers in the trash.
Signs and Symptoms of Purging
-Frequently going to the bathroom during or right after meals.
-Smelling of vomit. The bathroom may smell, or the person may actually smell themselves. Alternatively, they may use air freshener sprays, gum, or mints to try to disguise the smell.
-Excessive exercising, especially right after eating.
-Frequent use of laxatives and/or diuretics, especially right after eating.
Physical Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia
-Broken blood vessels in the eyes, caused by vomiting.
-Swollen cheeks, caused by vomiting.
-Discoloration of the teeth, caused by stomach acid in the vomit. Teeth may appear yellowish or they may appear clean.
-Scars of calluses on the knuckles, caused by sticking the fingers down the throat to cause vomiting.
-Hoarseness, caused by throat irritation from repeated vomiting.
Health Problems Due to Bulimia
-Sores in the mouth, caused by stomach acid in the vomit.
-Abdominal pain and bloating.
-Chronic sore throat.
-Constipation or diarrhea, caused by laxative abuse; may alternate between the two.
-Ruptured stomach or esophagus.
-Loss of menstrual periods.
-Swollen hands and feet.
-Weakness and dizziness.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia
-Feelings of guilt or shame after eating.
-Obsession with weight and appearance.
If you recognize signs of bulimia in yourself, you should seek help from a trained professional. Look for someone who has experience in treating eating disorders. You will need mental health treatment, but you may need medical care. See a medical doctor with experience in treating eating disorders. You may also benefit from seeing a registered dietician to learn about healthy eating and for assistance in developing healthy meal plans.
If you recognize signs of bulimia in someone you care about, encourage them to seek help. You can help by helping them find a qualified treatment provider. You can also be a good listener, listening with out judgement.
HelpGuide.org. http://helpguide.org/mental/bulimia_signs_symptoms_causes_treatment.htm. Bulimia Nervosa.