Bulimia nervosa a well-known type of eating disorder that centers around repeating episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory purging behaviours. The purging behaviours are most often some form of self-induced vomiting, but they are often combined with excessive exercise, fasting, and laxative abuse. Both the binge eating and the following behaviours can result in several different physical effects on the body, some very serious.
The physical side effects of bulimia nervosa can become serious if the behavioural symptoms go untreated, making early intervention important for long-term physical and mental recovery. As parents and family members help their loved ones look for the best nearby bulimia nervosa recovery programs, it is important to keep these many long-term side effects in mind. Ideally, they can find a program that emphasizes both psychiatric and medical care. A treatment program that ignores either aspect, i.e. only physical treatment or only counselling, won’t be nearly as effective as an integrated one.
Common Bulimia Nervosa Side Effects
While most people are familiar with some of the physical signs of bulimia nervosa that are related to frequent vomiting – like bad breath, frequent sore throats and facial swelling – many long-term health effects are not quite as immediate and might necessitate a doctor’s diagnosis to identify. Tooth decay is especially common in longstanding cases of bulimia nervosa, due to the repeated cycle of self-induced vomiting to get rid of calories taken in during a meal or binge eating episode. This is because the content of the stomach is usually highly acidic and over time, these acids can break down the tooth enamel.
Other common short-term health effects of bulimia nervosa, which are related to not only vomiting but also over-exercising and laxative abuse include:
- Severe Dehydration
- Heart Arrhythmia
- Constipation and Other Gastrointestinal Issues
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Dry Skin
- Increased Risk of Stroke
These kinds of symptoms are good early indicators of a bulimia nervosa disorder beginning to develop, and it’s important to catch it early on. Early intervention is key for a good bulimia nervosa prognosis.
The Long-Term Effects of Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa recovery is not only important for one’s mental health but their physical health as well. The long-term effects of bulimia nervosa are very serious and even more dangerous than the short-term ones, and several can lead to chronic health issues and even premature death. If left untreated, the repeated stresses on the body and mind of ballooning weight and nutritional purging can result in various health concerns. These include:
- Bone Weakness – If the body does not get enough nutrients, the bones are unable to fully develop the right amount of mineral density. As a result, people with bulimia nervosa are at a much higher risk of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease usually found only in senior women.
- Electrolyte Imbalances – Frequent vomiting and the resultant loss of fluids can result in severe electrolyte imbalances. Untreated electrolyte imbalances can have a hugely negative effect on heart function and in many cases, leads to a higher risk of a heart attack. Heart failure is one of the most common causes of death related to bulimia nervosa, making troubles with electrolyte balance potentially deadly.
- Suicide – The rate of suicide among people with bulimia nervosa (and other eating disorders) is more than twice as high as the same rate among the general population. Depression and major anxiety disorders often come hand-in-hand with bulimia nervosa, so people getting intensive bulimia nervosa treatment in Miami and elsewhere may need a suicide watch.
- Disruption or Loss of Menstrual Cycle – Women with bulimia nervosa are at great risk of experiencing infrequent menstrual periods with a condition known as oligomenorrhea. This condition is caused by poor nutrition and can affect fertility. In fact, even those who are in bulimia nervosa recovery may find that it takes some time for their periods to return to normal and they can conceive.
Seeking Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa in Miami
While there are many potentially life-threatening health effects associated with bulimia nervosa, with proper treatment and continued care, it is possible to enjoy a successful recovery in the Miami area and nationally. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary for patients to seek treatment in a facility that offers both medical and psychiatric care – so seek out a facility that takes this into consideration.
If you have any further questions about eating disorders and getting help, please read the following sources :