Bulimia Nervosa, also known as bulimia, is an eating disorder generally characterized by eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, followed by purging. Purging can occur through forced vomiting, excessive exercise, or by taking laxatives or diuretics.
Purge behaviors can also include other strict methods to maintain weight like fasting, exercise, or extreme dieting. Like other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa may cause an obsession with achieving an unrealistic body size or shape.
If not treated correctly, bulimia nervosa can have serious side effects on the body and can ultimately be life-threatening.
The main symptoms of bulimia include eating large amounts of food at once, purging, along with a lack of control over these behaviors. A person living with bulimia may also experience feelings of self-disgust after eating.
Other symptoms of bulimia may differ between individuals, but may include:
- Fear of gaining weight
- A preoccupation with weight and body
- A strongly negative self-image
- Binge eating, usually within a 2-hour period
- Self-induced vomiting
- Misuse of laxatives
- Use of supplements or herbs for weight loss
- Acid reflux
- Stained teeth from stomach acid
- Going to the bathroom immediately after meals
- Not eating in front of others
Side Effects and Complications
By purging your food, your body doesn’t receive the nutrients it needs to properly function. Complications, as a result, can include:
- Kidney failure
- Heart problems
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Digestive issues or constipation
- Ulcers and stomach damage
- Chemical imbalances
- Absence of a menstrual period
Helping Someone With Bulimia Nervosa
If you know or suspect someone you love is dealing with Bulimia Nervosa, it’s important that you are there for them without any form of judgment. With the right form of support, you can play a critically important role in their recovery process. Ways you can help include:
- Learning about eating disorders. Educating yourself on bulimia and other eating disorders may help relieve some stress and fear. Sometimes the unknown frightens us the most.
- Learning about treatment for eating disorders. There are several different routes one can take when in the recovery process including medical care, medication, therapy, and dietary counseling. Reach out to others who have gone through recovery and ask questions. You may want information regarding what they did, what they needed from their loved ones, and what their recovery looks like now.
- Seeking professional help. Don’t try to deal with this problem alone. Of all psychiatric disorders, anorexia and bulimia have the highest mortality rate. Early intervention improves the chances of recovery and a full life.
At Avalon Hills, we help women of all ages find recovery from an array of eating disorders. For more information, please give us a call at 866-733-8132 or visit our site here.