Bulimia otherwise known as bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder which mostly affects teenagers and young women. This psychological eating disorder is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging.
People suffer from bulimia because they have issues regarding their body shape and weight. They fear that eating food will make them appear fat and ugly. It was sometime in the 1980’s that the condition of bulimia was diagnosed as a separate eating disorder. It has been noted that over ambitious people as well as individuals who suffer from various psychological problems like stress, depression and low self esteem are twice as likely to suffer from this eating problem.
Unlike people with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia may have fluctuating weight problems. Because of their yo-yoing weight and the fact that the bingeing and purging of food is done in utter secrecy, it may be years before anyone can even guess that their relative or close friend is even suffering from this eating disorder.
Phases of Bulimia
People who suffer from bulimia nervosa go through three distinct phases. In the first phase the person eats far too much food. During this period of binge eating the individual may experience a sense of lack of control. Once the person finishes eating the food they feel a sense of calmness. However this phase of calmness is extremely short lived. The peaceful sensation is often replaced by a sense of self loathing or hatred. It is during this phase that the individual starts to purge or vomit violently.
Who is at Risk of Suffering from Bulimia?
Although women are more likely to suffer from this condition, even men may suffer from bulimia nervosa. Individuals with prior family history of bulimia are more likely to suffer from this disorder. People with low self esteem, those who experience extreme depression or excessive anger may also develop this eating disorder. Women who have endured sexual or physical abuse are twice as likely to suffer from bulimia.
Understanding the Effects of Bulimia
The condition of bulimia should never be trivialized as just another eating disorder simply because it much more than that. People who have who have control issues or the need to be in absolute control of all that they do, generally suffer from bulimia nervosa. Through this article, we will explore some of the long term health effects of bulimia.
Problems of the Oral Cavity
One of the best ways to diagnose a person who is suffering from bulimia is by studying their oral cavity. People with this eating disorder eat vast quantities of food and later vomit all the food that they have consumed. Because of the frequent purging, the tooth enamel, especially of the front teeth, would have eroded. As a result the teeth become extremely sensitive to hot and cold food.
Tooth decay is also much higher in people with bulimia. The salivary glands become extremely swollen because of the frequent vomiting. Most bulimics have red, sore and dry tongues. One of the best ways to control the damage caused by the stomach acids which enter the oral cavity during vomiting is to rinse the mouth with a water and baking soda solution and also to use a good mouthwash which contains .05 percent fluoride to combat the problem of tooth enamel loss.
The cheeks, chin and neck appear very swollen because of the violent and frequent bouts of purging. Because of the excessive swelling, people with bulimia have difficulty in swallowing food.
Dehydration and bulimia go hand in hand. Fluid loss is extremely high because of the frequent vomiting. People with this eating disorder often misinterpret their extreme thirst for hunger and eat far too much food. This food is thrown up soon afterwards which causes further dehydration. By drinking a glass or two of water before eating food can actually help to reduce the insatiable hunger and curb the problem of bulimia.
People with bulimia suffer from many intestinal problems. Constipation is extremely high among bulimics. For proper bowel movement and for expelling the waste matter, water is extremely necessary. However because of the frequent purging, a lot of water is lost. This causes the feces to become hard and dry and people with bulimia end up with constipation.
Irregular bowel movement is often noticed in bulimics because of dehydration as well as the absence of fiber, which is lost during purging. Most bulimics battle severe constipation and have extremely irregular bowel movement.
Most bulimics also suffer from extreme and often painful abdominal cramping caused by throwing up the food with great force and bloating or gas build up because the stomach becomes completely empty after purging.
Ulcers, particularly throat and mouth ulcers are a common side effect of bulimia. During purging not only food, but stomach acids are also brought up. When the stomach acids come in contact with the delicate mucous membranes which line the back of the throat and the mouth it can cause severe burning sensation. With time it can lead to the formation of painful ulcers.
People with bulimia are also anemic. Anemia happens as the body is not getting any of the vital nutrients including iron because of the frequent vomiting. Extreme anemia in women can affect their menstrual cycles as well.
When the body is kept in a mode of starvation for an extended period of time the body reacts by conserving all available energy for the functioning of the vital organs of the body. The body shuts down the menstrual process to prevent loss of precious blood. Hence it has been frequently seen that menstrual cycles are absent in women who suffer from bulimia.
Bulimics lose a lot of vital mineral and vitamins during vomiting. This can affect their muscular health. Instead of the muscles remaining taut and healthy, they begin to lose their tone and start to sag. This is one of the reasons why bulimics appear far older than their actual age.
Dry Skin and Brittle Hair
Extreme dehydration caused by frequent bouts of vomiting could be one of the reasons why people with bulimia suffer from very dry skin. Absence of essential vitamins and minerals coupled with dehydration can cause bulimics to have dry and brittle hair. Most bulimics also lose clumps of hair because of poor nutrition.
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