Bulimia is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by engaging in compensatory behaviors such as purging or using laxatives to prevent weight gain. A binge consists of eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances usually within a 2 hour period.
Compensatory behaviors are divided into categories: Purging and Non-purging. The purging behaviors include induced vomiting, the use of laxatives and diuretics while the non-purging behaviors involve excessive exercise and alternating periods of strict dieting or fasting.
Physical complications of Bulimia Nervosa
- Esophageal problems (tears, bleeding, rupture)
- Stomach injuries (inflammation of lining, rupture)
- Intestinal injuries (ulcers, bloody stools)
- Lung complications
- Kidney and heart complications (kidney stones, kidney failure, uneven heart rate, heart failure)
- Skin problems
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Swollen salivary glands
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Rectal bleeding
- Depression and mood swings
Who gets Bulimia?
Bulimia can develop at any time or basically at any age. However, it tends to develop during the teenage years for most. Many people who have struggled with Anorexia often go on to develop Bulimia.
After a prolonged period of restricting, the body may respond to the starvation of Anorexia by being triggered to overeating or binging in an out of control manner, to preserve itself. Feelings of guilt and disgust are feelings that frequently follow this act.
Many times these feelings are so extreme that some kind of relief is sought through engaging in eating disorder behaviors. These behaviors could include a form of extreme exercise that may last for hours even though there is an existing injury, throwing up, taking laxatives far beyond the recommended dose, or taking other medications such as diet pills or water pills to help reduce weight.
What Would be the Big Deal if I did Have Bulimia?
Few people know that although Bulimia is not as life threatening as Anorexia, it can cause death. Serious complications such as potassium and sodium depletion can have fatal outcomes. These electrolytes have important roles in our lives; For example, they regulate cardiac function and fluid balance.
Risk of esophageal tears or hemorrhage is a constant potential when anyone throws up, however, the risk of damage or death is heightened when the frequency of purging increases. Unfortunately, denial reduces fear even when blood is seen in vomit or when someone passes out. Many people who struggle with Bulimia go undetected since they minimize the severity of “just being Bulimic.”
Eating Disorders, including Bulimia, cause more deaths than any other mental health issue or disorder. However, they are the leading cause of death in the young female population. Many think, “Oh that would never happen to me”, and for some, it does not, but many people dealing with bulimia lose this battle every year.
Recovery from Bulimia is Possible
There is no need for anyone to struggle with or die from Bulimia or any other eating disorder. Stepping out of the darkness of denial and having a voice to let those who care help is the first step to Recovery. Recognizing that the person is not the eating disorder is critical to separating from the convincing and destructive nature of Bulimia.
Canopy Cove, has over 25 years of specialized experience helping women and men, and their families, overcome their struggles with Bulimia Nervosa and other eating disorders and experience recovery.
Call 888-245-6555 to speak to a trained specialist about treatment options.
Learn about our Residential Eating Disorder Program for Women
Learn about our Adolescent Residential Program for Teen Girls
Learn about our Eating Disorder Program for adolescent males and Adult Men