How Can Anorexia and Bulimia Affect You?

How Can Anorexia and Bulimia Affect You?

Eating disorders are a serious set of illnesses that affect tens of millions of Americans at some point during their lifetimes. Specialists have been unable to pin down any singular cause behind the development of eating disorders, but now largely agree that various genetic, biological, and sociocultural factors may leave some individuals more susceptible to them than others. And while there are many myths surrounding eating disorders–including who tends to develop them–it is important to remember that they can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, or background.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that may be characterized by:

  • A distorted body image
  • Weight loss
  • Having a hard time keeping an appropriate body weight for one’s age and stature
  • In growing children, a lack of appropriate weight gain

Generally speaking, individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa tend to restrict what kinds of food they eat and how many calories they consume. They may also binge eat, purge using laxatives or via induced vomiting, or exercise compulsively. A person can be struggling with anorexia nervosa regardless of their weight; they do not have to be underweight to be suffering from the condition.

Potential Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

In addition to the many potential side effects of anorexia nervosa, there are other potential tolls it can take on your health, particularly in the long run. For example, during a cycle of self-starvation, an individual’s body is deprived of the nutrients it needs to normally function. In this case, the body is forced to slow its processes in the interest of conserving energy, which can lead to severe medical consequences. These can include cardiac arrest as well as electrolyte imbalances, two issues that can suddenly take someone’s life. This highlights the importance of seeking treatment as soon as possible.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder whose hallmark is a cycle of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors, which may include the use of diuretics and laxatives or self-induced vomiting. Like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa is a severe illness that can potentially even be life-threatening.

Potential Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa also has several possible side effects. Among those are other health consequences that may come about as a result of recurring cycles of binging and purging which can have an affect on someone’s entire digestive system. These harmful binge and purge cycles can also cause chemical and electrolyte imbalances that can affect major organ functions, including that of the heart. Similar to individuals suffering from anorexia, bulimia can lead to sudden death from cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalances.

Eating disorders are indeed severe illnesses, but they are also treatable. Those seeking help may wish to contact an eating disorder hotline. In times of crisis, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 to be put in touch with a properly trained individual at any time. If you are experiencing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or another type of disordered eating, we can help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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