Bulimia Nervosa
Posted in eating disorders

Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is one of the common eating disorder similar to Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.

Eating ice cream

Eating ice cream

Are patients with Bulimia underweight, overweight or obese?

Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or relatively normal weight.

What are the symptoms of Bulimia?

Symptoms include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
  • Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals) which can lead to stroke or heart attack

How do you diagnose Bulimia?

A dental exam may show signs of cavities or gingivitis (infection of gums). The enamel of the teeth may be worn away or pitted because of too much exposure to the acid in vomit.

A physical exam may also show:

  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes (from the strain of vomiting)
  • Dry mouth
  • Pouch-like look to the cheeks
  • Rashes and pimples
  • Small cuts and calluses across the tops of the finger joints from forcing oneself to vomit

Blood tests may show an electrolyte imbalance (such as low potassium level) or dehydration.

W8MD Weight Loss, Sleep and MedSpa Team

W8MD Weight Loss, Sleep and MedSpa Team

How do you treat Bulimia?

Treatment depends on how severe the bulimia is, and the person’s response to treatments:

  • Support groups may be helpful for mild bulimia without other health problems.
  • Counseling, such as talk therapy and nutritional therapy are the first treatments for bulimia that does not respond to support groups.
  • Medicines that also treat depression, known as selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often used for bulimia. Combining talk therapy with SSRIs may help, if talk therapy alone does not work.

What is the prognosis for Bulimia?

Bulimia is a long-term illness. Many people will still have some symptoms, even with treatment.

What are the possible complications of Bulimia?

Bulimia can be dangerous. It may lead to serious health problems over time. For example, vomiting over and over can cause:

  • Stomach acid in the esophagus (the tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach). This can lead to permanent damage of this area.
  • Tears in the esophagus.
  • Dental cavities.
  • Swelling of the throat.

Vomiting and overuse of enemas or laxatives can lead to:

  • Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances etc
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
  • Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals) which can lead to stroke or heart attack, heart rhythm problems etc.

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