What Does a Bulimia Diagnosis Mean?
Eating Disorder Hope says that 10 million women and 1 million men in the United States find eating disorders to be a daily struggle. And the American Psychiatric Association says that the most common demographic that suffers from disordered eating is girls and women between the ages of 12 and 35. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the three major types of eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Those who develop bulimia nervosa often have self esteem issues and are perfectionists that are hyper critical of not only their bodies but also themselves overall. It is common to see that an individual living with an eating disorder may deny having a problem, especially during its early stages; he or she may also continue to feel overweight despite experiencing malnutrition, which could even be a threat to his or her life.
Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating
While an individual with bulimia nervosa might vigorously exercise and diet often, he or she may be anywhere from slightly underweight to obese; on the whole, those who are suffering from bulimia nervosa are generally not as underweight as those suffering from anorexia nervosa. This is because patients with bulimia nervosa tend to binge eat, and could consume an inordinate amount of food within a short period of time.
A binge eating session may lead to the consumption of thousands of calories that are generally high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugars; sometimes patients eat incredibly fast, consuming food without so much as even tasting it. In the midst of an eating binge, an individual may feel out of control and oftentimes they will only stop eating if they fall asleep, are interrupted, or their stomach begins to hurt from being stretched far beyond its regular capacity. Someone with bulimia nervosa may use a laxative or purge by inducing vomiting because he or she is afraid of weight gain or is experiencing stomach pain. This cycle of binging and purging generally occurs at least many times a week or, in more severe cases, several times in a single day.
Possible Signs of Bulimia Nervosa
People are often unaware when a friend or family member is suffering from bulimia nervosa because sufferers tend to hide their binge eating habits and they generally do not end up becoming excessively thin.
Some symptoms that may come with bulimia include:
- A puffy face and cheeks
- Salivary glands below the jaw and in the neck become swollen
- A sore throat that is chronically inflamed
- Severe dehydration from the purging of fluids
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder, caused by constant vomiting
- Intestinal issues caused by irritation from laxative abuse
- Teeth beginning to decay from exposure to stomach acids after their enamel wears off
- Kidney problems caused by the use of diuretics, or water pills
While it is rare, bulimia could lead to potentially fatal complications such as cardiac arrhythmias, gastric rupture, and esophageal tears.
Treating Bulimia Nervosa
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, it is important to stay hopeful. The American Psychiatric Association says that the first step in treating an individual with bulimia nervosa is to disrupt his or her harmful cycle of binging and purging. However, simply interrupting this unhealthy cycle is not sufficient: it is essential to also address the underlying psychological issues that inform the behavior in the first place; one such way that this can be done is through psychotherapy. It is essential that someone who is in recovery from disordered eating has access to the appropriate medical professionals who can help them along their journey.