Bulimia in Men
The National Eating Disorders Association says that an estimated 10 million men and 20 million women in America will suffer from some type of an eating disorder. Contrary to often-gendered myths our society holds, these illnesses can develop in anyone regardless of their gender, age, and background.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
One of the many different types of eating disorders is bulimia nervosa, a severe issue that may even culminate in sudden death due to issues such as electrolyte imbalances or cardiac problems. This disease is characterized by an individual participating in a dangerous cycle of binge eating and purging. During a binge eating episode, an individual will feel a loss of control as they consume a large amount of food over a relatively short period of time. Purging is a compensatory behavior that seeks to “cancel out” the effects of a binge eating episode that could involve self-induced vomiting and/or misusing laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
Bulimia and Men
According to The National Eating Disorders Association, men make up about 25% of all individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa. Many studies have also suggested that men who have eating disorders are at a higher risk of mortality than women, and men who have eating disorders often experience comorbid conditions including substance abuse, depression, anxiety, as well as excessive exercise. Furthermore, subclinical eating disorder behaviors are almost as common in men as they are in women; these behaviors include taking laxatives, fasting, binge eating, and other purging activities. Between 1999 and 2009, hospitalizations for men dealing with eating disorders increased by 53%.
How Bulimia Affects the Body
Bulimia nervosa is a serious issue that can lead to many different medical issues, including electrolyte imbalance and cardiac arrest, both which can lead to sudden death. This is because people suffering from bulimia subject their body to dangerous cycles of bingeing and purging which can have a profound effect on every major organ system.
The National Eating Disorders Association explains that men are far less likely to seek out treatment for an eating disorder, largely due to cultural biases held by our society. Furthermore, treatment for an eating disorder cannot be approached from a one-size-fits-all angle, as cultural and biological factors are important to be considered in seeking an effective treatment environment. Due to the higher mortality rate for men suffering from eating disorders, early intervention is extremely important, as is a gender-sensitive approach. Specialists tend to recommend an all-male treatment environment for men and boys, because they could feel strange in one where they are surrounded by mostly women.
One way to get help for an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa is by contacting an eating disorder hotline. Thankfully, though they are serious illnesses, eating disorders are also treatable. If you find yourself in a crisis, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 at any time to be put in touch with a properly trained individual. Additionally, we can help you here at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.