Bulimia
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Bulimia

 

Bulimia is an eating disorder. Someone with bulimia might binge on food and then vomit (or purging) in a cycle of binging and purging. Binge eating refers to quickly eating large amounts of food over short periods of time. Purging involves forced vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, or fasting in an attempt to lose weight that might be gained from eating food or binging.

 

The strict definition of bulimia is 2 binge-eating episodes a week for at least 3 months to make the diagnosis, but symptoms may vary.

 

A person with bulimia often feels a loss of control over their eating as well as guilt over their behavior. They are usually aware that their behavior is abnormal. Bulimia is most common in adolescent and young adult women.

 

Bulimia is an eating disorder. Someone with bulimia might binge on food and then vomit (also called purge) in a cycle of binging and purging. Binge eating refers to quickly eating large amounts of food over short periods of time. Purging involves forced vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, or fasting in an attempt to lose weight that might be gained from eating food or binging.

 

The strict medical definition used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) requires 2 binge-eating episodes a week for at least 3 months to make the diagnosis, but it's likely that some people with symptoms of bulimia may not fit these exact criteria.

 

A person with bulimia often feels a loss of control over their eating as well as guilt over their behavior. They are usually aware that their behavior is abnormal. Bulimia is most common in adolescent and young adult women.

 

People with bulimia are often of normal or near-normal weight, which makes them different from people with anorexia.

 

Researchers have suggested that altered levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain play a role. Serotonin levels can be related to the development of clinical depression.

 

People with bulimia will try to hide their binging and purging behavior from others. This secrecy often makes it difficult to identify the actual problem until a serious complication from the physical self-abuse occurs. People with bulimia may complain of generalized weakness, fatigue, abdominal pain, and loss of menstrual cycles. They may even complain of vomiting or diarrhea without revealing that it is self-induced.

 

A physical exam may reveal signs of chronic binging and purging.

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Dental cavities, loss of tooth enamel, enlarged salivary glands, and scars on the knuckles may be present as a result of chronic self-induced vomiting.

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Signs of malnutrition or dehydration may be present including dry skin, changes in the hair and nails, swelling of the lower legs and feet, or loss of sensation in the hands or feet.

 

Laboratory tests may reveal problems such as low blood sugar. Many electrolyte changes can occur. Low potassium resulting from laxative abuse is common and can be severe.

 

Compulsive overeating disorder


Anorexia

 

See the Mayo Clinic for information.

See HelpGuide.org for advice for parents and friends of a bulimic.

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