A serious eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and behaviors such as self-induced vomiting to compensate for the effects of binge eating.
About Bulimia Nervosa
- Affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women and 80% of patients are female.
- Usually appear to be of average body weight and recognize that their behaviors are unusual.
- Frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.
- May attach self-esteem to body image and feel out of control during binge-eating episodes.
- Evidence of binge eating: Disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time, finding wrappers and containers.
- Evidence of purging behaviors: Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of laxatives or diuretics packages.
- Excessive, rigid exercise regimen despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury; compulsive need to “burn off” calories
- Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
- Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
- Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
- Creation of lifestyle schedules to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
- Behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to the body. The binge-and-purge cycles can damage the entire digestive system, the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences include:
- Electrolyte imbalances (caused by dehydration from purging) can lead to irregular heartbeats and heart failure.
- Rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
- Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during vomiting.
- Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation from laxative abuse.
- Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating.
How Friends and Family Can Help
- Set aside a time for a private meeting with your friend to discuss your concerns openly and honestly in a caring, supportive way.
- Ask your friend to explore these concerns with a counselor, doctor, nutritionist, or other health professional.
- Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes and avoid giving simple solutions.
- Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy and express your continued support.