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What Are The Consequences Of Eating Disorders

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Health Consequences Of Bulimia Nervosa

The Consequences of an Eating Disorder

The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
  • Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse. Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.

Seek Support From People You Trust

Reach out for support from a close friend, family member, school counsellor or others who have experienced an eating disorder in online support groups, like The Butterfly Foundation and the InsideOut Institute. Knowing that youre not alone on your recovery journey can be really powerful.

Try to be open about your feelings feelings of anger, fear, exhaustion, guilt, shame they are all part of being human. Being open and honest about these feelings with supportive people can help to remind you that youre not alone, and to find self-acceptance.

Dual Diagnosis: Addiction And Eating Disorders

Victims of eating disorders often display many of the same traits that have been observed in substance abusers. People with eating disorders often describe their compulsions in language thats very similar to that used by an addict, and many will persist in their destructive behaviors despite escalating negative consequences for doing so. This is the working definition of an addictive disorder.

Its no surprise then that many of the patients who report for the treatment of an eating disorder will also need treatment for a chemical dependency or behavior issue such as sexual compulsion or gambling addiction. These secondary issues may be treated in the standard manner with an initial period of detoxification followed by CBT.

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What Are The Types Of Eating Disorders

The National Institute of Mental Health offers a list of three main types of eating disorders. Perhaps the most widely known of these is anorexia nervosa, which is a persistent refusal to eat sufficient food to maintain a healthy weight or function. Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder. It is commonly associated with anorexia, and it is characterized by repeated cycles of binge eating and purging. Overeating is yet another form of an eating disorder, and its one that can lead to obesity, with all of the associated health problems.

Beware Of Proeating Disorder Sites

What are the health risks of eating disorders?

Some websites promote anorexia and bulimia as acceptable and even desirable lifestyles. Teens ages 13 to 19 are the most common visitors to these sites half of them are looking for ways to lose weight.

Many of these sites include images of thin women designed to inspire visitors . They also include weight loss advice, strategies to avoid detection by family members and links to similar sites.

While visiting pro-eating disorder sites, 96 percent of users reported learning new weight loss or purging techniques, as did 46 percent of pro-recovery site visitors.

When surfing the web, be careful with these sites and keep in mind that the information may be false.

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Causes Of Eating Disorders

While eating disorders typically appear in the teen years or young adulthood, eating disorders can develop in those younger or older than that. Eating disorders can occur in people of all genders. Eating disorders are not caused by vanity and fad diets alone. Biological, psychological, and societal influences can all contribute to an eating disorder.

Why Are Eating Disorders Dangerous

Medical ComplicationsEating disorders can do a lot of damage to your health. People with eating disorders often dont get the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy and work properly. For example, people with eating disorders are at risk of heart or kidney failure leading to death if they are not treated.

The harder I held on to the food, or lack of it, the faster I lost myself. I could see nothing but ED. I knew nothing but ED and I just couldnt stop. As my body began to failas I began to failI believed with all of my being I was a failure. ~ Melanie

Some symptoms of anorexia nervosa are:

  • thin, weak bones
  • hair and nails that break easily
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • fine hair growing all over the body
  • low iron levels and weak muscles
  • constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in body temperature, feel cold all the time
  • lack of energy

Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa are:

  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and under the jaw
  • heartburn
  • pain in the stomach and intestine
  • kidney failure
  • dehydrated

People who try to get rid of calories after they eat by throwing up will have many of these symptoms.

People with binge-eating disorder often binge on foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt. This kind of diet can lead to weight gain, and some people with BED are overweight or obese. As a result, people with BED are at risk of developing:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • digestive problems
  • heart problems

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Teens Participating In The Summer Wellness Programs

Palo Alto Medical Foundation

At least 30 million U.S. people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. There are different types of eating disorders with many different warning signs.

If you fall into any of these descriptions for an eating disorder, dont hesitate to contact your doctor or a counselor. If you have friends who might have an eating disorder, please encourage them to seek help you may save a life.

Have You Experienced The Consequences Of Eating Disorders

Effects of eating disorders

A lot of times, an eating disorder can be mistaken for someone not being strong enough. But how can that be? How can a normal person keep themselves from eating for days at a time?

Its not strength or control. Its the way its used.

This is why an Ed becomes shameful. We need to switch our thinking to see those suffering as an equal. As humans, we all suffer secretly from something.

I dont think anyones not strong enough to do anything. Its the way and amount thats applied. Its also how much we want to give to that certain goal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Its a very hard post, but someone needs to open up the conversation about the consequences of eating disorderstheyre serious.

Do you suffer from an eating disorder?

What have been the consequences of eating disorders in your life?

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How Do Eating Disorders Affect Health And Emotions

Eating disorders can cause serious problems throughout the body.

Anorexia can lead to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:

  • low blood pressure
  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
  • constipation and bloating

Health Consequences Of Most Common Eating Disorders

While eating disorders have many adverse health consequences in common, each disorder can have distinct health consequences of its own.

Anorexia can lead to self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Health consequences are caused mainly by malnutrition resulting from severe restriction of calorie intake, and often include:

  • Brittle bones, hair, and nails
  • Muscle loss

Pica is defined as regularly eating substances that lack nutritional value and are not meant for human consumption, like hair, dirt, or paint. This can cause serious health issues from infections, heavy metal poisoning, anemia, intestinal blockages or tears or other toxicities.

ARFID is the failure to consume sufficient calories to support normal growth and development. Not related to body image, those with ARFID find food unappealing or may be afraid of choking. Severe nutritional deficiencies caused by ARFID can affect growth and development, especially in children.

Rumination Disorder occurs when food is repeatedly chewed, swallowed then regurgitated. This can lead to severe malnutrition.

Eating disorders are serious mental health illnesses that not only adversely impact a persons health, relationships and ability to successfully function in their daily lives but can be fatal.

Its crucial for those struggling with an eating disorder to seek professional help. The earlier they enter a treatment program, the greater their chance for long-term recovery.

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Treating The Long Term & Short Term Consequences Of Anorexia

If detected and treated soon enough, many of the short-term effects of anorexia can be treated and reversed. However, if the condition is left untreated for a lengthy period of time, anorexia can lead to a myriad of long-term health problems that may be irreversible.

If you think you or a loved one may have anorexia, seek help right away. Start by talking to your doctor about your symptoms and concerns, or call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237 to find out more about eating disorder treatment programs in your area.


About the Author:

Sarah Musick is a freelance writer who specializes in eating disorder awareness and education. After battling with a 4-years long eating disorder, she made it her mission to help others find hope and healing in recovery.

Her work has been featured on numerous eating disorder blogs and websites. When shes not writing, Sarah is off traveling the world with her husband.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Published February 24, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com Reviewed & Approved on February 24, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

Potential Side Effects Of Bulimia Nervosa

Physical signs and effects of binge eating disorder ...

Individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa tend to experience a dangerous cycle of binge eating followed by purging, often through induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. Some side effects that may come with bulimia nervosa include:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Kidney problems from the use of diuretics
  • A sore throat from chronic inflammation
  • Intestinal issues from laxative abuse
  • Tooth enamel wearing off from exposure to stomach acids
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder from persistent vomiting
  • Swollen salivary glands below the jaw and in the neck
  • Puffy cheeks and face

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Types Of Eating Disorders That Can Negatively Impact Quality Of Life

Whether they occur on their own or together, eating disorders of all kinds can have a negative impact on quality of life. Eating disorders that can impede daily activities and otherwise decrease the patients quality of life include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and restrictive food intake disorder.

Each of these eating disorders requires a personalized treatment approach that focuses on eliminating symptoms and replacing disordered thoughts and behavioral patterns. Using evidence-based care practices, eating disorder therapists can help their patients become recovered and regain their quality of life through the treatment of the eating disorders and their co-occurring conditions.

Loss Of Essential Nutrients

Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride may become dangerously low in the body, resulting in a variety of serious medical conditions. Low sodium in the body may cause headaches, confusion, and nausea. In extreme cases it can lead to seizures and coma. Low potassium can lead to muscle cramps and weakness. It may even cause muscles to become paralyzed. Dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea are all signs of low amounts of Chloride.

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What If I Have An Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder:

Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.

Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.

Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your emotions. Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

Eating Disorders Disrupt Healthy Physical And Mental Functioning

The Physical and Emotional Effects of Eating Disorders

The cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological and endocrine systems are all vulnerable to the effects of an eating disorder. With many eating disorders, organ failure, malnutrition and starvation are common. Additional information can be found on the NEDA website.

Disordered eating can damage the cardiovascular system when there are too few calories to fuel organ functions. This lack of energy drives the body to break down available tissue, often starting with the heart muscle. The result can be a dangerous drop in pulse and blood pressure, which can cause heart failure.

Heart failure can also result when excessive vomiting or laxative use causes an imbalance of electrolytes.

Damage to the gastrointestinal system occurs when inadequate food intake or excessive vomiting harms the stomach. When human digestion slows or fails, the gastrointestinal system lacks the essential nutrients needed to function normally.

Impaired function can cause intestinal distress, nausea, and vomiting, which can lead to dangerous dehydration. Other serious ramifications may include blocked intestines or perforations, esophageal rupture, the inability to have a bowel movement, bacterial infections, dangerous fluctuations in blood sugar levels, pancreatitis and more.

Inadequate nutrition or prolonged dehydration can have a deadly impact on all bodily systems and functions, with the possibility of:

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High Blood Pressure And Cholesterol

Regularly consuming an excessive amount of fat and calories contributes to higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol can contribute to a whole host of serious medical conditions. A few include stroke, aneurysms, heart failure, diabetes, and even dementia. Treating eating disorders in a residential environment may help an individual reduce the chance of developing these types of serious conditions.

Medical Consequences Of Eating Disorders

Do you work with eating disorder clients and often find yourself having conversations about:

  • Moving to a higher level of care?
  • That yes, your client does have an eating disorder and that it is serious?

Or Would it be helpful to have handouts that walk through the medical complications of malnutrition and eating disorder behaviors to help communicate concern or the seriousness of the behaviors? Then this handout set is for you!

This comprehensive Medical Consequences: Communicating Concerns About Eating Disorders Handout Set Includes:

The total set is available in pdf format and is 30 pages including a cover page and usage letter. The set includes two versions of handouts- one with design elements/ color and one that is plain text. There are 17 unique pages and 9 that are repeated in black and white . Your purchase also includes any future updates to these handouts.

This comprehensive set of handouts is ready to print and use in session with clients. Theyre great to use with individual appointments and may be appropriate for a group setting. As an International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals Approved Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian Supervisor and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, I created these handouts to use in session when the same situations, questions, or concerns kept presenting over and over. The usage letter included as part of the handout set also includes a few tips/ideas for how to use the handouts.

Terms and conditions

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Potential Side Effects Of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an individual refusing to eat an adequate amount. They also could exercise in excess and attempt to lose weight through the use of laxatives or forced vomiting. Some side effects that may arise with anorexia nervosa include:

  • Hair and nails becoming brittle
  • The stopping of menstrual periods
  • Depression
  • The thinning of bones from losing calcium
  • Mild anemia
  • Muscles waste away
  • Severe constipation
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Lowered pulse and breathing rates
  • Constantly feeling cold due to a dip in ones internal body temperature

What’s The Difference Between An Eating Problem And An Eating Disorder

Midlife Eating Disorders: Presentation and Treatment
  • An eating disorder is a medical diagnosis. This diagnosis is based on your eating patterns and includes medical tests on your weight, blood and body mass index . See our page on diagnosed eating disorders for more information.
  • An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult. This can be just as hard to live with as a diagnosed eating disorder.

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The Nasal Cavity Of A Bulimic

Now this will be the most graphic.

This is my nasal passage. A bit harder to take.

This is from a combination of drug abuse and bulimia. The acid goes up in the back and dissolves your nasal tissues while the drugs go the opposite way and dissolve the other side. I DO NOT suggest looking at yours or poking inside. Let it heal as it is.

Eating Disorder Symptoms Causes And Effects

Eating disorders are among the most dangerous and difficult to treat of the addiction issues people face. It is easy to see why food is inescapable. Its pretty obvious that a $200-a-day heroin habit is problematic, but everybody needs to eat food every day. While nobody needs cocaine, even the most strenuous binge eater will have need of food every few hours, making recovery a daily struggle.

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What’s It Like To Have An Eating Problem

If you have an eating problem, there are many ways that it can affect how you feel or behave. The way you eat, and how you think about food, may be one of the most noticeable effects.

Warning: the video and the examples below may be upsetting and potentially triggering. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you might want to move on to the next section.

Watch Shaista, Dave, Lilith and Olivia talk about their eating problems. They discuss their experiences of eating disorders such as anorexia, restrictive eating, bingeing and purging. This video is seven minutes and 16 seconds long.

  • restrict the amount of food you eat
  • eat more than you need, or feel out of control when you eat
  • eat regularly in secret or have a fear of eating in public
  • feel very anxious about eating or digesting food
  • eat in response to difficult emotions without feeling physically hungry
  • stick to a rigid set of diet rules or certain foods
  • feel anxious and upset if you have to eat something else
  • do things to get rid of what you eat, sometimes known as purging
  • feel disgusted at the idea of eating certain foods
  • eat things that aren’t really food, such as dirt, soap or paint
  • feel scared of certain types of food
  • think about food and eating a lot, even all the time
  • compare your body to other people’s and think a lot about its shape or size
  • check, test and weigh your body very often
  • base your self-worth on your weight, or whether you pass your checks and tests.

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