Bulimia – An introduction

Continuing our series on eating disorders, we get you an introduction to another one – bulimia.

Bulimia - An introduction

What is bulimia?

An eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging is commonly referred to as bulimia or bulimia nervosa.

A person suffering from bulimia attempts to consume large portions of food in a comparatively less amount of time and then tries to get rid of the calories in two ways:

  • Purging:  By taking laxatives, diuretics and self induced vomiting.
  • Non- Purging: By fasting and over exercising.

The overeating and purging becomes a cycle in due course of time, often resulting in a serious addiction.

Bulimia is not readily diagnosed and it affects females more than men.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia

Physical symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Swollen and  puffed face
  • Sore throat
  • Flaked skin and hair loss
  • Low body temperature and constant feeling of cold
  • Constipation/ diarrhoea
  • Bloated stomach
  • Disturbed menstruation cycles.
  • Severe dental erosion
  • Oral sores/ sore throat
  • Constant weight fluctuations

Behavioural and environmental symptoms

  • Isolation:The affected person is usually aware of their abnormal eating habits. Hence they find it difficult to eat with family and friends, and prefer to eat alone.
  • Secretive behaviour: The victim normally loses interest in social gatherings and wishes to devote more time nurturing the illness. In order to avoid confrontation and embarrassment, the victim may also hide packets of food in the bathroom, bedroom or the closet.
  • Huge water intake: The affected person may start drinking large amount of water or any form of liquid and then make excuse to go to the bathroom and throw up.
  • Sickness:The surrounding of a bulimic person often smells of vomit. To mask the smell, the person may also indulge in frequent dental care like brushing, using sprays or chewing gum.
  • Insomnia: Sleep deprivation and mental anxiety are common signs in a bulimic person.

 Other warning signs of bulimia

Apart from the above mentioned symptoms there are other associated signs to watch for like:

  • Dehydration caused by vomiting
  • Chronic gastric reflux after eating
  • Oesophagus inflammation
  • Electrolyte imbalance leading to cardiac arrhythmias
  • Lacerations to the inner lining of mouth.
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Seizures

Bulimia doesn’t get better own its lot own and it certainly brings lots of fatal complications which can take over your life and may even lead to death. The first step to curing bulimia is to have the courage to reach out for help.

As soon as a bulimic person is encountered, the only way of extending help is to make the individual understand that it is a life threatening situation and it is extremely important to seek a professional advice.

Click here to see how bulimia can be treated

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Photograph via sxc.hu