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Destructive consequences of bulimia

26.02.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder which stems from psychological causes.

People with bulimia first eat a humongous amount of food and then induce vomiting or take laxatives and diuretics to purge their bodies from that food. They can also go hungry or exhaust themselves with excessive physical exercises in order to make up for their periods of binging. [1]

Such eating behavior has negative consequences on physical and mental health, both short-term and long-term.

Contents:

  1. Bulimia is deadly
  2. Short-term consequences
  3. Long-term consequences
  4. How to fight bulimia

Bulimia is deadly

The severity of this disorder must never be underestimated.

A lot of eating disorders, including bulimia, lead to more deaths compared to other mental disorders. [2]

Some estimates show that about 1.5% of women develop bulimia within their lifetime, but men can also be affected by it. [3] Around 50% of women recover from bulimia within ten years after being diagnosed, but some research state that 30% of those women encounter it again. [4] Such mode of behavior is harmful for the body, with its consequences manifesting themselves even after several years.

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That is why it is important to maintain treatment and diet, along with changing eating habits and introducing healthy mode of behavior even after recovering.

Russia still lacks any statistics on eating disorders, so a lot of people start to seek treatment only after the consequence to their health become irreversible.

Short-term consequences

Bulimia has multiple short-term consequences. They include menostasis, or lack of menstruation, and anemia (blood deficiency), which can lead to constant fatigue. Also, patients may experience severe dehydration, constipation and irregular heart rate.

People with bulimia can encounter even other symptoms and diseases:

  • disruption of electrolyte metabolism, which can have negative effect on all organs;
  • tooth decay and gum diseases;
  • intestine failure;
  • hair loss, dry skin;
  • sleeping disorders;
  • strokes and multi-organ failure.

Bulimia entails such a great damage to the whole body that a person might die without timely treatment.

Long-term consequences

A lot of short-term consequences disappear after fixing eating behavior. However, the risk of long term consequences after surviving a malnutrition period remains. The degree of such consequences depends on the severity of disorder and its length.

Diabetes

People with bulimia tend to consume foods with large amounts of sugars and fats and low amounts of protein. Even though they purge themselves from such food, traces of it remain in the body. It can lead to hyperglycaemia and even Type II diabetes. [5] The opposite is also true: women at the risk of diabetes are more prone to developing bulimia, as they are more focused on eating than other people.

Brittle bones

Calcium deficiency during childhood and adolescence can lead to problems with bone health later in life. Women who experienced bulimia can develop osteopeny, a state when their bone density is below average, especially if they also had menostasis and calcium deficiency during the period of having a disorder. [6] Women who have both bulimia and anorexia are especially at risk. Transition to healthy eating after bulimia can improve bone health, but the risk of developing osteopeny and osteoporosis later in life remains.

Fertility disorders

Due to the lack of nutrients women with bulimia are at risk of developing oligomenorrhea, or large intervals between menstruations. This has a negative effect on the ability to get pregnant and have a child. After finishing treatment of bulimia they need time for their monthly cycle to recover, so that a woman can get pregnant. [7]

However, even during pregnancy women are at risk of developing bulimia again, as their weight increases, and so does the feeling of hunger. This can lead to relapse.

Other long-term consequences of bulimia include problems with teeth, high cholesterol levels and damage to mucous membrane of the digestive tract.

How to fight bulimia

A lot of people think they can handle bulimia themselves. This is a dangerous misconception. The best way to solve the problem is to seek specialized treatment. There are many ways to “defeat” bulimia and return to eating healthy.

The earlier you start working on the problem, the less severe will be the consequences.

One of the most efficient and trusted methods is changing mode of behavior.

Methods of 7Spsy behavior modification technique will help you live happily without bulimia.

We will help you to rid yourself of bulimia

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After this course you will become able to satiate yourself with small portions of food and enjoy eating, instead of suffering from guilt after overeating and searching for the ways to purge

The course is designed for 2-6 weeks and is composed by our psychologists individually for every patient after diagnostic testing.

References:

  1. Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
  2. Fichter, M. M. and Quadflieg, N. (2016), Mortality in eating disorders – results of a large prospective clinical longitudinal study. International Journal of Eating Disorders.
  3. Ulfvebrand, S., Birgegard, A., Norring, C., Hogdahl, L., & von Hausswolff-Juhlin, Y. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidity in women and men with eating disorders results from a large clinical database. Psychiatry Research, 230(2), 294-299.
  4. Outcome in bulimia nervosa. Keel PK, Mitchell JE. Am J Psychiatry. 1997 Mar;154(3):313-21.
  5. The nutrient intake of women with bulimia nervosa. Gendall KA, Sullivan PE, Joyce PR, Carter FA, Bulik CM. Int J Eat Disord. 1997 Mar;21(2):115-27.
  6. Sagar, A. (2005). Long Term Health Risks Due to Impaired Nutrition in Women with a Past History of Bulimia Nervosa. Nutrition Noteworthy, 7(1). Retrieved from  https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6vt2k42t
  7.  Menstrual cycle irregularity in bulimia nervosa. Associated factors and changes with treatment. Gendall KA, Bulik CM, Joyce PR, McIntosh VV, Carter FA. J Psychosom Res. 2000 Dec;49(6):409-15.