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What is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging. Binge eating refers to eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, and purging refers to the attempts to get rid of the food consumed through vomiting or the use of laxatives. People with bulimia often go through cycles of bingeing and purging several times a week. According to Eating Disorder Hope, 4% of females in the US suffer from bulimia nervosa in their lifetime, and only 43% of those receive treatment.

Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with bulimia, it’s important to seek professional help.

Types of Bulimia

There are two types of Bulimia Nervosa- Purging type and Non-Purging type.

The Purging type is where the person suffering bulimia will use some form of self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas after an episode of binge eating. The Non-Purging type is where the person suffering bulimia will compensate for their binge eating through fasting, excessive exercise, or the use of diet pills.

What Causes Bulimia Nervosa

The causes of bulimia nervosa are not fully understood, but there are several risk factors that have been identified. Many times, people who suffer with an eating disorder develop bulimia as a way to maintain control of their life. Many people also attribute eating disorders and bulimia to fashion and the media. Other causes of bulimia may include:

  • A history of dieting or yo-yo dieting
  • A history of obesity
  • A family history of eating disorders, obesity, or depression
  • Perfectionism
  • Low self esteem

Physical Symptoms

Someone with struggling with Bulimia Nervosa will exhibit physical signs such as:

  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Sore throat
  • Acid reflux
  • Tooth decay or erosion
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Bright red eyes
  • Bursting of blood vessels from excessive vomiting and straining
  • Weight fluctuations
  • "Russels sign" which is when callouses form on the knuckles from self-induced vomiting

Behavioral Symptoms

Someone with Bulimia Nervosa may not have physical symptoms that are as obvious. However, there are several behavioral symptoms to look out for such as:

  • Binge eating, or eating large amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Purging, which may include self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise
  • Eating in secret
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Having extreme mood swings
  • Going to the bathroom immediately after meals
  • Exercising excessively
  • Being obsessed with body shape and weight
  • Hiding food
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water

Health Risks of Bulimia

Bulimia may seem as a way to take control over your life, but it does quite the opposite. Bulimia takes a toll on your physical and mental health. It destroys your ability to control how your body reacts to eating. It also weakens your heart and digestive system. Additionally, purging through vomiting or the use of laxatives strips your body of essential nutrients, which can lead to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. This can also cause kidney damage and failure.

Eating Disorder Therapy

Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health. It can be hurtful in relationships and cause more mental and emotional damage.

Our team of therapists and counselors at Integrated Counseling and Wellness has a wide variety of skills and resources to help those who struggle with bulimia and other eating disorders. If you or a loved one suffer from Bulimia, it is essential to get help. Our team is ready to help you reach wellness and happiness, and reach a healthy relationship with food and your body. For a free consultation, contact us!

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