Eating disorders are serious mental conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits. Bulimia nervosa, along with the anorexia nervosa, is the most common form of eating disorders in the United States. Bulimia nervosa primarily affects females, but men are affected as well. The exact cause of bulimia nervosa is unknown, but it is believed that this condition occurs in a hazardous combination of biological, psychological and environmental abnormalities. People are possibly born with a predisposition to eating disorder, which later develops because of different environmental reactions. People affected with bulimia usually also suffer from the body dysmorphic disorder, in which the person is excessively preoccupied by a certain perceived defect of his or her physical features. Women in the western world are at the highest risk of developing bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders. The risk factor increases with the degree of westernization and it is typically associated with the contemporary fashion trends and promotion of a thin and slender line as a perfect bodily figure.
Bulimia nervosa – Overview
Similarly, to some other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa is defined by restraining of eating and food intake for a period of time, which is typically followed by an episode of excessive eating or binging that results in feelings of guilt and low sense of worth. The real problems occur when the sufferer attempts to overcome the feeling of guilt by purging the body from food. Typically, the sufferers use laxatives, enemas, diuretics, start fasting or trying to induce vomiting. The cycle of bulimia starts with strict dieting, this leads to tension and food cravings. These cravings are satisfied by uncontrolled binge eating, which typically leads to use of different purging techniques in order to avoid weight gain. After the purging session, a sufferer feels a lot of shame and disgust towards itself, which even further distorts the self-image leading to another attempt to make it better by avoiding food.
Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa
A person affected with bulimia typically stands out due to the unusual eating patterns. These patients often eat rapidly and out of control. The eating normally stops if another person interrupts it, or if it becomes unpleasant due to the overextension of the stomach. After each meal, a person engages in vomiting and other forms of purging. This behavior normally leads to various severe symptoms such as chronic gastric reflux after eating, dehydration and low concentration of potassium in the blood, severe imbalance of electrolytes leading to arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and even death. Patients may suffer from inflammation of the esophagus, oral trauma, constipation, peptic ulcers, and even infertility.