Bulimia or bulimia nervosa, as this is how it is known in medical circles, is one type of eating disorders. Bulimic patients tend to consume excess amount of food in very short time and vomit or purge their body from this food after the episode. They usually eat high calorie food, like candies, doughnuts, cookies or ice cream secretly and after that they induce vomiting or use diuretic or laxative medications to get rid of excess calories. In rare cases, bulimic patients may also try to exercise the calories out of their body or to fast to get rid of them.
Induced vomiting may become addiction for bulimic patients. In early stages, vomiting is used only as the method to get rid of excess food intake, but after a while it becomes security. These patients fear about their potential weight gain without vomiting and they can’t stop inducing it. As the body usually adjusts to these circumstances and induced vomiting, there is no expected weight loss. Because of that, patients might look for even more drastic measures to purge.
Women are more likely to develop bulimia than men and most patients belong to the group of young people, 12 to 21 years old. Most common patients are teenage girls or college students. Another group of people prone to bulimia are professional athletes, especially those engaged in ballet, gymnastics or boxing.
Especially hazardous is combination of anorexia and bulimia, often seen in patients who engage in extreme fasting, bingeing and vomiting.
Bulimia is very harmful for the body and the damage depends on the purging methods and the duration and severity of the mental illness. Repeatedly induced vomiting is known to cause dehydration and loss of important minerals such as potassium and sodium in the body. The body experiences trauma every time the person induces vomiting. Additionally, stomach acid present in the vomit can cause damage to the lining of the throat, esophagus and stomach, leading to stomach ulcers. Erosion of the teeth enamel is also present in numerous cases of bulimia, since the stomach acid damages the teeth as well.
Abuse of diuretics and laxative medications may seriously damage the heart and also lead to constipation and irregular bowel movements.
Patients suffering from bulimia are considered to be exposed to a higher risk of suicide. Bulimia is often combined with depression, anxiety and some other psychiatric problems, so these patients might be more likely to commit suicide.
Treatment Options for Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is considered to be psychological problem manifested as eating disorder. So, these patients need to learn what triggers their problem and how to manage the situation. The therapy usually involves medical, nutritional and mental health specialists. They are able to diagnose the conditions properly and provide needed care.