Bulimia or bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that leads to episodes of binge eating followed by purging to prevent weight gain. Bulimia may cause serious complications and may even be life-threatening.
Bulimia is a psychological disorder in which the affected individual has distorted image of himself/herself. In bulimia, the person loses control due to overwhelming urge to binge eat after which he or she uses different methods to avoid gaining weight such as vomiting, abusing laxatives or exercising too much.
Bulimia is far more common in women than in men and it usually affects adolescent girls and young women. Bulimia can be also accompanied by other affective disorders, compulsions and addictions. This illness can be hard to overcome but with adequate therapy bulimics may change their attitude about eating and reverse serious complications.
Symptoms of Bulimia
Bulimics typically hide their binging and purging from others. The affected person may ingest large amounts of high-caloric foods in very short period of time until discomfort or pain appear. In these episodes of secretive excessive eating the person fells lack of control.
After binge eating, the person feels ashamed which leads to frantic efforts to prevent weight gain. This can be done by different means such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, enemas and diuretics or excessive exercising.
Common signs and symptoms of bulimia include abnormal bowel function due to continual use of laxatives and tooth decay, swelling of the salivary glands, mouth sores and chronic sore throat due to repeated vomiting.
Also, bulimics typically have sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands caused by chronic self-induced vomiting as well as broken blood vessels in the eyes due to the strain of vomiting. Dehydration, malnutrition, abdominal bloating, edema, acid reflux, weakness and dizziness are other symptoms of bulimia. Additionally, women with bulimia suffer from menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods).
Prevention of Bulimia
There is no precise way to prevent bulimia but recognizing the early signs of the eating disorder can help to prevent it from progressing. For example, during routine checkups, pediatricians may ask children about their eating habits and their view of themselves.
Parents can help their children develop healthy attitude about food and exercise. They must also avoid making comments of their child’s physical appearance. Frequency of bulimia and other eating disorders could be reduced by putting less emphasis on physical perfection within the family and on a global level.