Bulimia is also called bulimia nervosa and is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by efforts to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, laxatives, medications, fasting or extreme exercise.
Other characteristics include depression, constipation, fatigue, dehydration, irregular heartbeat and damaged teeth and gums from repeated vomiting.
It may be difficult to tell the difference between an eating disorder and the fads of adolescence.
Parents must be in tuned to changes in their children’s behavior that is sustained and isn’t the occasional quirks of a teen trying to find their way in the world.
Some indications that a child may have bulimia and not wanting to eat with the family; frequent long visits to the bathroom or excessive exercise and preoccupation with weight.
The health problems that are related to bulimia aren’t as severe as they are with people who suffer from other types of eating disorders such as anorexia. Complications from bulimia can include heart disease.
Bulimia and heart disease are linked because of the nutritional deficits that sufferers experience when they continually purge their bodies of the nutrition they just ate. Purging will result in dehydration and a lower level of potassium in the blood.
Potassium is used by the body to regulate the heartbeat. It is one of the chemicals used in the electrical stimulation of the heart. Purging decreases the amount of potassium in the body and results in weak and irregular heart rhythms.
Low potassium levels are also a result of laxative use that people who suffer from bulimia use to attempt to control their weight. This dehydration and low potassium can lead to near paralysis and lethal heart rhythms.
Long term low potassium levels will lead to bulimia and heart disease. But there are other dangers of bulimia that will lead to heart disease. A bulimic eating disorder includes binge eating and that binging doesnt usually include vegetables and fruits but instead animal fats and processed foods. When people who binge eat and then exercise excessively to take off those calories eat high fat foods they also put themselves at higher risk for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and type 2 Diabetes.
The end result of all of these symptoms is bulimia and heart disease.
Although people with bulimia usually are normal weight, or even a little overweight, there are some instances when sufferers are also underweight from lack of nutrition. People who are 15% less than normal weight also are at risk for heart conditions and kidney failure. Without enough body fat to keep body organs and other parts healthy malnutrition can result in death.
Most studies of people suffering from bulimia, which isnt accompanied by severe weight loss, have a better chance of recovery than those patients with concurrent anorexia.
A study reported in 2002 found that people who suffered from eating disorders while they were adolescents had a higher risk of psychological and medical problems that included circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure and at higher risk of bone fractures, chronic fatigue, headache and insomnia.
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