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Bulimia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binging and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.

Bulimia Nervosa has three primary symptoms

  • Regular intake of large amounts of food accompanied by a sense of loss of control over eating behavior
  • Regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors such a self-included vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, and/or obsessive or compulsive exercise
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

Eating disorders specialists believe that the chance for recovery increases the earlier bulimia nevrosa is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of bulimia nevrosa.

Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Evidence of binge-eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or the existence of wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen—despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to «burn off» calories taken in
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Alluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth
  • Creation of complex lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nevrosa can be extremely harmful to the body. The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles can damage the entire digestive system and purge behaviors can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences of bulimia nevrosa include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse
  • Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating