We cannot deny the fact that physical appearance affects how people interact and relate to us. As superficial as it may seem, the way you look influences how you get the attraction to other people. It also has an effect on how you look and value yourself. This perception paves the way to developing eating disorders like bulimia nervosa. Let us find out the effects of bulimia – sore throat, depression, circulatory problems, and others. We can also discuss the truth behind bulimia leading to throat cancer and other serious medical issues.
Bulimia Nervosa: A Brief Overview
Bulimia nervosa, or simply bulimia, is an eating disorder that makes a person purge after binge eating. Purging can come in the form of forced vomiting, excessive workout, or taking laxatives and diuretics. People resort to this behavior as a result of their unrealistic body outlook. They look in the mirror and see an unattractive image that needs to lose weight. This binge-purge cycle becomes a habit and later develops into a destructive disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia
- Gives self-deprecating remarks (‘I look so fat,’ ‘I’m so ugly,’ ‘I look so big,’ etc.)
- The person is preoccupied with the thought of being overweight
- Eats a lot then goes to the bathroom afterward
- Exercises forcefully after binge-eating
- Uses several food supplements for weight loss
- Has teeth staining and discoloration
- Is eating in isolation
- Has calluses at the back of the hands (from making oneself vomit)
How to Diagnose Bulimia
Like many eating disorders and psychological issues, the first step is to have the patient admit that she or he has a problem. Only then will he be able to commit himself to an institution and seek help as a result.
During your doctor visit, he may require you to submit blood tests and urine exams following a comprehensive physical examination. He may also perform a psychological evaluation that uses a tool called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This has the criteria that determine if you have a mental disorder and measure its severity.
Complications of Bulimia Nervosa
Physical effects will start to show up as bulimia takes a toll on your overall health. For instance, a bulimic patient may feel the following symptoms:
- Fluid loss. Dehydration becomes possible if you regularly throw up and use diuretics
- Electrolyte imbalances. As you purge, you lose essential electrolytes in your system, leading you to have a weakened body and develop other general organ problems.
- Heart problems. Electrolyte imbalance can pave the way to the irregular beating of the heart and other problems with the blood vessels.
- Low blood pressure
- Problem with thermoregulation. You may experience fever or heat and cold intolerance.
- Damage to the digestive tract. Your throat, esophagus, and stomach may have problems with your stomach acids that burn and irritate the lining of this food passageway.
- Digestive problems. Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, and others may develop.
- Mouth issues. Sore throat, tooth decay, staining, weakened tooth enamel, and gum disease may also come about because of the presence of gastric acids every time you vomit.
- Integumentary issues. Because you have fewer nutrients in your body, your hair, nails, and skin become dull and dry.
Mental and psychological effects also begin to develop if you leave this eating disorder untreated. Aside from the bodily symptoms of bulimia (sore throat, acid reflux, tooth decay, etc.), your way of thinking and mindset can also get influenced negatively.
- Mood swings
- Low self-confidence
- Social phobia
- Suicidal ideations
- Substance abuse (drug or alcohol)
- Feelings of guilt or shame
Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa
The focus when treating bulimia has to include not just food and nutrition but also mental health education and treatment options. If you fill a patient’s body with good food without changing his perspective on his self-image, he will just return to the cycle.
Addressing bulimia nervosa requires the development of a healthy outlook of one’s self, a healthy relationship with food, as well as the knowledge and understanding of the importance of nutrition.
As a result, doctors recommend using treatment options that may comprise of the following:
Taking antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac)
This is the only antidepressant approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to treat bulimia.
Many recommend psychotherapy, closely related to talk therapy, and may include performing cognitive behavioral therapy, family-based therapy, or interpersonal psychotherapy, whichever is suitable to the patient.
Dietitian and nutritionist-approved diet plan
Nutrition and diet education, which means learning about healthy eating habits, can help a nutritious meal plan, and possibly a controlled weight loss program
Your doctor may prescribe treatments and medications that can address and alleviate your physical symptoms. Treatment for complications may include hospitalization for severe cases of bulimia.
Many doctors claim that successful treatments usually involve the usage of antidepressants in combination with psychotherapy. They also swear upon the efficiency of a treatment method. So, as a result, they would recommend using a collaborative approach between, for instance, the primary doctor, a mental healthcare provider, and the support of family and friends.
Some eating disorder treatment facilities offer live-in or day treatment programs. Patients participating in live-in programs at treatment facilities receive around-the-clock support and care. Patients can take classes, attend therapy, and eat nutritious meals. For instance, they may also practice gentle yoga to increase body awareness.
Effects of Bulimia on the Body
What is bulimia nervosa?
The Physical Side Effects of Bulimia
What are the effects of bulimia on the body?
The Effects of Bulimia on Your Body