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Bulimia

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Bulimia is an eating disorder most often associated with teenage girls, although teenage boys, and both men and women in adulthood can experience bulimia. Bulimia is more likely to affect girls and women, but men are not immune. Bulimia is a secret disease, one that is grounded for the most part in shame, self hate, and self disgust. Bulimics will go to great lengths to hide their illness and it is not uncommon for serious health complications to set in before anyone determines that bulimia is affecting a patient.

BULIMIA SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Bulimics may experience a feeling of undesired fullness after eating, even if they ate only a small healthy portion of food. They feel compelled to purge themselves and often find ways to commit self induced vomiting as a way of managing their sense of over eating. Other bulimics will binge on unhealthy snacks, eating more than most people would in an entire week of unhealthy snacks in one sitting. Potato chips, ice cream, donuts, cookies, brownies, fudge, or whatever may be available. The bulimic then realizes the caloric damage done tot heir otherwise healthy diet and purge themselves of the excess food through self induced vomiting.

In Western civilizations and first world countries, bulimia affects about 3% of women and girls and about one tenth the amount of men. It is not uncommon for women now in their 30’s or 40’s that had experienced bulimia in their youth to discover themselves in the throes of a relapse.
Bulimia
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Bulimia is a very serious disease that is not simply about food management. It can be very difficult to effectively overcome as a bulimic does not see themselves accurately, either in body form or human potential and value.

BULIMIA SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of bulimia are typically well hidden but often include significant binging such as eating several meals from fast food restaurants, eating until the stomach is painfully full, eating entire cakes, or eating beyond their body’s capacity to hold food and then purging it through vomiting, often accompanied by hours of excessive exercise. It is common for a bulimic to skip meals and eat lightly when not binging.

Some physical symptoms may include sores in the mouth, tongue, or throat, damaged teeth and gums, abnormal bowel function, fatigue, bloating, distention, dehydration, dry skin, irregular heart rate, scars and bruising on the back of the hand or knuckles, and menstrual irregularities and the loss of menses.

Emotional symptoms are usually a little easier to recognize or associate the physical symptoms with when trying to determine if a patient is bulimic. Emotional symptoms are likely to include food hoarding, consistent dieting, anxiety, depression, chronic complaints of being overweight, obsessive focus on the body’s weight and shape, unusual and secretive eating habits, going to the bathroom consistently after meals and snacks, eating too much followed by a long period of crash dieting, fasting, excessive exercising, and obvious self disgust with the body that often shifts focus onto other areas of their existence.

Some bulimic patients only purge after over eating and fast in between while other vomit after every incident of swallowing solid foods. Some bulimics become so accomplished at self induced vomiting that they no longer need assistance from their fingers or other implement and simply vomit at will.

BULIMIA CAUSES

Causes of bulimia are somewhat as mysterious as other eating disorder causes. Societal pressure combined with stress, and inability to manage stress and tension, and a biological predisposition toward bulimia are the closest understandings science has to an explanation. Some patients are more likely to develop bulimia when they are living in a high risk environment, where the pressure to maintain a thin body is very high such as in certain sports, modeling, beauty pageants, and other cultural pressure interests.

BULIMIA RISK FACTOR

Risk factors for bulimia can include puberty, dieting, major transitions, and those who are professionally or competitively engaged in sports or artistic activities involving the body.

BULIMIA DIAGNOSIS

A physical examination as well as laboratory testing and a psychological evaluation may be necessary to diagnose a patient with bulimia. Many adolescents are diagnosed during an annual physical. Blood tests to detect liver, kidney, and thyroid function are likely to help determine how long the patient has been experiencing bulimic symptoms. Few patients are willing to seek help on their own or admit to having an eating disorder unless they have already been through treatment.

BULIMIA TREATMENT

Bulimia nervosa that is left untreated can lead to a host of medical and psychological complications, including tooth decay, gun disease, cardiac problems including heart attacks, low potassium levels, burning of the esophagus, life long digestive problems, medication and drug abuse, and severe depression and suicide.

Treatment of bulimia can only be determined by the patient’s needs. Inpatient intensive treatment is often necessary for patients who are unwilling to admit to having a serious problem but are experiencing health effects. Psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, monitoring, self education, eating disorder education, family therapy, and in some cases hospitalization with feeding tube implementation may be required.

Coping with bulimia nervosa is a life long and chronic eating disorder, one that can take control of a recovered patient’s life without much warning. Patients need to be taught to monitor themselves so they know when they are about to relapse and can reach out for help before they begin self destructive behaviors.
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