What are the side effects of bulimia?
Besides the obvious physical problems associated with eating disorders such as bulimia there are also a number of more subtle issues that are tougher to recognise. Internal physical problems and the potential to develop mental health issues such as depression are also real dangers faced by those who struggle with bulimia and other eating disorders.
As bulimia is seen as a compulsive eating disorder the immediate assumption is that the sole danger is the patient will could suffer from weight loss and malnutrition. But because of the behaviours traditionally involved with this debilitating condition, there are secondary psychological and physical side effects which could cause lasting problems for the sufferer.
Physical effects of bulimia
Bulimia is chiefly diagnosed by the presence of the binge – purge cycle. Unlike the anorexic who constantly controls food intake by eating the absolute minimum, the bulimic will allow ingestion of food in huge amounts and then totally evacuate it from there bodily system. This is brought about by vomiting. The first factor to take into account here is the patient is making the body vomit unnaturally. This places pressure on the individual both physically and psychologically. Vomiting naturally will create acids. If this is done only rarely than no damage is likely to be done, but when this happens frequently, the mouth, teeth, tongue, throat, esophagus, and stomach, are all affected with constant purging. The acid from the stomach as it comes up through the esophagus and mouth comes into contact with the linings within the body and will begin to react and remove the lining that is necessary to protect the inner parts of the body. The stomach acid will also remove the enamel on the teeth.
Depletion of essential nutrients
As the ingested food is purged, the body is also losing the essential vitamins, proteins, and minerals the food contained to keep the body healthy. The most dangerous loss here is potassium depletion, but also lack of other minerals like sodium, calcium and so on are very harmful and can have negative effects on the heart and bones. The excess acids and reduction in essential nutrients can lead to hair loss, vocal chord damage, irregular heart beat, stomach ulcers, menstrual dysfunction, weak muscles and damage to the immune system.
Psychological effects of bulimia
Psychologically, food is often used as a comfort mechanism - to replace something missing in the patient’s life. The patient feels relief when eating or gorging, but in order to prevent gaining abnormal weight the intake must be ejected. Compulsive eating disorder studies have shown that the Bulimic will begin to have social issues and withdraw from their friends and family. Loss of self-worth often follows and when addiction sets in they are also dealing with an issue that has become out of control, which often leads to a feeling of powerlessness and depression.