Eating Disorder Symptoms

Eating Disorder Symptoms

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that will affect tens of millions of Americans at some point over the course of their lifetimes. In the past, researchers have been unable to pin down any single cause that leads to the development of them. Researchers now largely agree, however, that these illnesses do not stem from one singular origin. Rather, it is a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors that could put some individuals at a higher risk of developing eating disorders than others. While there are various myths floating around about eating disorders, it is important to remember that eating disorders affect individuals of any and all backgrounds. There are also a variety of eating disorder symptoms. 

Types of Eating Disorders

There are several different kinds of eating disorders; each has its own distinct qualities. Different types include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, OSFED, ARFID, and orthorexia. While each type also has their own set of disease-specific symptoms and effects both long and short term, there are many signs and symptoms that one can look out for that could point to the existence of an eating disorder in general.

Physical Signs of Eating Disorders

Physical symptoms that may suggest someone is struggling with an eating disorder may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Poor healing of wounds
  • Impaired immunity
  • Swollen feet
  • Cold, mottled feet or hands
  • Dry skin
  • Dry hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Stomach cramps
  • Non-specific gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux or constipation
  • Yellow skin, which may be the result of eating large amounts of carrots
  • Lanugo, or fine hair all over the body
  • Sleep issues
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Dizziness, particularly when one stands up
  • Fainting
  • Abnormal laboratory findings or bloodwork results
  • Swelling around the salivary glands
  • Calluses and/or cuts across the tops of finger joints (could be a sign of induced vomiting)
  • Dental issues, such as cavities, discoloration, and tooth sensitivity (may be from induced vomiting as well)

Emotional and Behavioral Signs of an Eating Disorder

Some emotional and behavioral signs that may hint someone is dealing with an eating disorder could include:

  • Dieting often
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Fad dieting
  • New diet practices
  • Discomfort eating around others
  • Behaviors and attitudes that generally point to being primarily concerned with dieting, weight loss, and the control of one’s food 
  • Frequently looking in the mirror in search of perceived flaws
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating small portions during meals
  • Showing extreme concern with one’s shape and body size
  • Food rituals, such as excessive chewing, not allowing food to touch, eating only one type of food group
  • Being preoccupied with weight, calories, dieting, carbohydrate consumption, and food
  • Refusing to eat certain foods, which may escalate to restricting against entire food groups, such as carbohydrates

How to Access Help

While all types of eating disorders may lead to serious mental and physical side effects, they are thankfully treatable. And one’s treatment plan will depend on his or her individual situation. There also are several hotlines you can contact if you are worried about yourself or a loved one. Lastly, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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