What is Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. Most healthcare providers state that the bulimia nervosa definition would be binge-purge eating wherein the person would eat a good deal of food for a short period of time (binge) and get rid of it right away (purge) usually through forced vomiting. The DSM-IV-T identifies two variants of this eating disorder: purging (self-induced vomiting or the intake of too much laxatives to promote diarrhea) and non-purging (too much exercise, stimulant intake or fasting).
People with this type of eating disorder are obsessed with their body image and weight. This problem is normally linked with depression or other psychological problems. At times when bulimic do give in to binges; they may be able to consume an average of 3000 – 5000 calories in a short period time. Binge eating serves to comfort the bulimic person. The intake of such amount of food would lead to panic and bulimics would feel that they lost their sense of control, feeling guilty and ashamed after. Thus drastic measures are thought to be necessary – purging would then take place. They would also fear gaining too much weight thus purging is done to eliminate the excess food. Most people with bulimia are able to retain their normal weight as a result they may be able to keep up with the eating disorder for many years without other people knowing about it.
Binge eating can be verified with the following symptoms:
- Overindulgence in eating – to the point of pain or physical discomfort
- Concealment of eating – going out for unexpected eating or eating in privacy
- Eating large amounts of food but with no changes in weight
- Food disappearances
- Sporadic eating and fasting
Purging symptoms would include:
- Heading for the bathroom every after meals
- Use of laxatives, enemas or diuretics
- Stench of vomit
- Too much exercising
Signs of Bulimia
Bulimia may be considered if the following signs are seen:
- Irregular body weight (increases then suddenly decreases)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Mouth sores
- Irregular menstruation
- Damaged tooth enamel
- Frequent sore throat
- Negative body image perception
- Swollen mandibular salivary glands
- Sores or calluses on hands or knuckles
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder
Bulimia Nervosa Pictures
Picture 1 : Picture of bullimia nervosa
Picture 2 : Bullimia picture
Effects of Bulimia Nervosa
If this eating problem goes untreated, it can lead to deficits in nutrition that can be fatal at times. There are short-term and long-term side effects of bulimia that would affect not only most of the major organs of the body but also the psychological aspect of the person.
Depression and a low perception of one’s body image are the main psychological culprits that would lead to this eating disorder. As bulimia progresses, the person would feel more depressed as the control of the disorder goes out of hand. Moreover, it would cause more anxiety as the bulimic cannot eat comfortably with other people. The binge-purge cycle would cause mood changes, constant thought of food (sometimes would even dream about food) and avoidance of people.
Bulimia can also affect the mental capacity of the person. It can cause memory loss, poor concentration, lack of coping ability and irritability. Aside from that, the GI tract can also be badly affected most especially if the eating disorder is already a chronic problem. It can cause persistent reflux, ulcerations in the stomach, abdominal pains, bloating, poor absorption of nutrients and indigestion. The teeth may be damaged due to the constant exposure to stomach acid and the frequent vomiting would cause the enlargement of the salivary glands – the body’s coping action. It can also cause electrolyte imbalances which would lead to arrhythmias, heart blocks, osteoporosis and kidney damage. Adrenal glands can also be affected and can cause sleepiness, body malaise and lethargy. Ovaries would start to produce less estrogen thus causing menstrual irregularities, infertility and miscarriages. The immune system become suppressed and could cause frequent bouts of flu, colds, tonsillitis and other infections.
Bulimia Side Effects
This eating disorder can lead to various side-effects including:
- Tooth decay
- Discolored teeth
- Inflammation of the stomach and esophagus
- Major organ damages
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Starvation of the muscles
- Restricted circulation
Bulimia Nervosa Statistics
Bulimia was first diagnosed as a separate disease around 1980 and is mostly seen in women and adolescents. There are about six to ten million adolescent women and over a million males who has this eating disorder and the numbers are increasing. In the United States, it is estimated that about three percent of the women have suffered from this eating disorder at one point in their life. Eating disorders would usually start at early puberty or early adulthood. Bulimics would usually have an average of eleven binge episodes in a week.
Bulimics are mostly Caucasian females, although this is already changing. Around 64% of these bulimics would have normal weight and are said to be “dieters”. The problem with these dieters however, is that they have 18x more prone to develop bulimia or other eating disorder. Bulimia has the highest incidence among female with ages 12 to 25 years old and who are living in the western society wherein going on a diet is very common.
Bulimia Nervosa Treatment
Bulimia treatment would include psychological counseling and would sometimes use anti-depressants. These two can help lessen the binge-purge cycle and assist in the recovery of the eating disorder though this would involve an intensive treatment which would take months for significant results to be noticed.
The medical problems that result from chronic bulimia would need to be treated symptomatically. The major health problem that needs to be dealt with first is dehydration since this could cause serious complications. There are times that hospitalization is needed to deal with this complication.
If the bulimic is underweight, then another treatment goal is start nutrition therapy to get the client back to his/her normal weight. An eating plan is usually prepared by a dietician in order to achieve the client’s normal weight and teach him/her good eating habits.
Recovery from bulimia is possible but quite difficult. It would entail a combination of treatment methods which would include medical care, dental care, a nutritionist and therapy (individual, family or group). The first step to recovery would entail the patient’s determination to stop bulimia. It has to start from within the patient. For no matter what other people may do, if the patient is not determined to stop, then all efforts are wasted.
Approximately 65 to 80% of the people with this problem would totally eliminate the binge-purge cycle. Therefore, bulimics do have good prognosis. They just need to take each day slowly and to learn how to divert their focus away from self-destruction and more on to a positive perception of self.
Helplessness is one of the feelings most bulimics would suffer during the times they need to get help but do not usually know where to start. There are bulimia tricks and tips that could help people with this eating disorder overcome this problem. First trick is to determine the underlying cause of the problem or its precipitating factors. Most bulimics start out after they were told that they were overweight or any comments regarding their body that is accompanied with pressure to look a certain way. Other people are triggered to binge and purge because of depression and the need to have a control over certain aspects of their lives.
Another one of the bulimia tricks is taking control over the eating habits. Each person has different needs and the trick here is to determine what these needs are and deal with them. Determine what sort of food are your “comfort foods”. Most people tend to skip a meal then when they do feel the hunger pangs; they tend to turn to high calorie or sugary foods and feel guilty afterwards – resulting to purging. Developing a proper eating plan would help steer clear of the “guilty” feelings. If the bulimic has a hard time dealing with the problem and would constantly slip back into the habit of binging and purging, then it is time to consult a counselor or doctor to determine the deep-seated issues.
An interesting fact about bulimia is that most bulimics are conscious of their deviant actions and are mortified with their over-eating tendencies but they are secretive about it. Another issue worthy of note is that bulimia nervosa may occur to both men and women regardless of culture or social class. But most males who are bulimics are also homosexuals.
It has been found out that family influence and the genes are the two major contributing factors for this disease with certain social and cultural aggravating factors.