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Bulimia nervosa

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Bulimia Nervosa is a psychological eating disorder that is characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control (purging). Binge eating is quickly eating large portions of food in short periods time. It is usually a response to depression, stress, or self esteem issues. Purging involves forcing yourself to vomit or use laxatives, excessive exercise, or going for long periods of time without eating in order to lose weight. The cycle of overeating and purging usually becomes an obsession and is usually repeated often. [1]

Effects

The cycle of purging (throwing up) may be repeated several times a week or, in more serious cases, several times a day (16), and may directly cause:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel because of repeated exposure to acidic gastric contents.
  • Dental cavities, sensitivity to hot or cold food.
  • Swelling and soreness in the salivary glands (from repeated vomiting).
  • Stomach Ulcers.
  • Ruptures of the stomach and esophagus.
  • Abnormal buildup of fluid in the intestines.
  • Disruption in the normal bowel release function.
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heartbeat and in severe cases heart attack
  • A greater risk for suicidal behavior
  • Decrease in libido

[2] [3]

Causes

Bulimia can be brought about by depression, sadness, and stress. People want to feel more in control of their lives and problems by indulging in binging. Reasons as to why people do this are not well understood, but these are some of the possible reasons:

  • Families: Teens with parents who are judgmental or teens who try to keep up with fashion and can feel not good enough or abnormal. Also if the parent is dieting and has problems themselves the teen may copy them somewhat.
  • Culture: Culture focuses mainly on approving when women's bodies are overly thin to the point of being sick. In the media today, thin is considered beautiful. More men are now feeling the pressure of society even though the ratio of men and women bulimics is small.
  • Life changes or stressful events: Certain events like being teased and/or raped are big causes for bulimia.
  • Psychology: People who have poor control over anger, depression, and low self-esteem can resort to this sort of reaction. It also affects people who have problems feeling in control of their lives.
  • Biology: It may be genetic and related to the hormones and chemicals produced by the brain.[4]
Markings

Signs

There are many signs to look for in Bulimia. The size of the person, however, doesn't matter since people of all sizes can be bulimic. This sometimes makes it hard for someone to recognize a friend's or family member's problem just by appearance alone. There are warning signs to look out for. A person's mindset to become thin usually overrides the risks they put themselves into. Some take diet pills or urine inducing or bowel movement inducing pills in order to get rid of the food they consumed last. Noticing they leave for the bathroom often after eating, is one possible sign. Another is over-exercising to the point of being overly tired or injured.

There are also signs of vomiting such as swollen cheeks or jaw area, rough skin on knuckles, (some use their fingers to help them vomit) broken blood vessels in the eyes, and having clear looking teeth due to the action of stomach acid on the teeth. [5]

Bulimia Statistics

1. About 10% of college age women in the United States suffer from Bulimia Nervosa.

2. Of people who have bulimia, 10% will die from starvation, cardiac arrest, other medical complications, or suicide.

3. Only 10% of the patients who are diagnosed are men.

Fortunately all bulimics have hope of overcoming it by undergoing treatment.[6]

Cures

The type of treatment needed really depends on the type of patient. Some are recommended to a psychiatrist, or in some cases, a clinical psychologist. Often they are prescribed antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) which is effective on depressed feelings. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved fluoxetine as the number one treatment of bulimia. Other types of antidepressants, are Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), Tricyclic antidepressants, and Buspirone (Buspar) of which all have been proven to decrease the binging and vomiting in most people. However, the last three antidepressants are higher in side effects, and so aren't always recommended, but it all depends on the person's condition. The Topiramate and the Serotonin Antagonist Ondansetron are other drugs that are still being investigated for possible bulimia treatment.[7]

References

Other mental illnesses