Bulimia Nervosa

(Bulimia)

Definition

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. People who have bulimia are overly concerned with weight and body image. They eat very large amounts of food (called binging) and use inappropriate means to rid their bodies of the food (called purging). Purging may be done through vomiting, laxatives, or water pills. Excessive exercise or fasting may replace or be used along with purging. This cycle of binging and purging is used to prevent weight gain.

Causes

The exact cause of bulimia is unknown. Factors that may contribute to this condition include:
  • Cultural bias toward thinness
  • Changes in the level of brain chemicals
  • Emotional stress
  • Disturbed self-image

Risk Factors

Bulimia is more young women, especially between 11-20 years old. Other factors that increase your chance of developing bulimia include:
  • History of obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Family members who have had an eating disorder or mood disorder
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unhappiness with weight and size
  • Career in which physical appearance is important
  • Substance abuse

Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms include:
  • Eating unusually large amounts of food at one time
  • Feeling like eating is out of control
  • Intentional/forced vomiting
  • Taking laxatives, enemas, water pills, or diet pills
  • Exercising excessively
  • Having dramatic changes in mood
  • Having symptoms of depression
  • Having difficulty controlling your impulses
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
Physical symptoms include:
  • Abdominal pain and heartburn
  • Menstrual problems
  • Swollen cheeks and jaw
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands (in the mouth and throat)
  • Bloating
  • Stained or chipped teeth (due to contact with stomach acid)
  • Cuts or scars on back of hands (from scraping skin on teeth during forced vomiting)
Bulimia may lead to other problems, including:
  • Dental and throat problems from stomach acid that rises during vomiting
  • Changes in body chemistry and fluids due to vomiting and abuse of laxatives or water pills
Symptoms of these complications include:People with bulimia have a high incidence of psychiatric conditions, including:

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