Healthy Living

What are the Causes and Symptoms of Bulimia?

What are the Causes and Symptoms of Bulimia?

Key Takeaways

  • An individual with bulimia undergoes a binge and purge routine.
  • To lose weight, an individual with bulimia either vomits, exercises, or uses laxatives to compensate for the unhealthy amount of food her or she consumed.
  • Bulimia can lead to several medical conditions, such as dental cavities, erosion of tooth enamel, disruption of normal bowel movements, dehydration, swelling of salivary glands, and ruptures in the stomach and esophagus.

Bulimia is an eating disorder that causes an individual to consume large amounts of food within a small period of time. After the binge is over, the individual purges to get rid of the unhealthy amount of food he or she consumed. Some methods that an individual may opt for to compensate for the unhealthy amount of food he or she ate include vomiting, excessive exercising, or consumption of laxatives.

Individuals with bulimia are often at the correct weight for their height. However, the mindset of an individual with bulimia causes them to desire to lose weight, or it makes them fearful of gaining weight. Overall, the individual is dissatisfied with his or her body. This eating disorder is found to be more common among women than men, and it often starts in early adulthood.

The cause of this eating disorder is still unknown. Experts say that it can be a combination of different factors that are responsible for this behavior. Apart from biological and environmental factors influencing this disorder, personality, emotions, and thinking patterns can also lead to this behavior. One of the most common traits that an individual who practices bulimia possesses is low self-esteem. Bulimics often depend on purging to improve their self-worth.

Studies show that hormonal imbalances are associated with the onset of this eating disorder in women. People who have experienced trauma, extreme stress, or those who were victims of abuse, are at risk for this disorder. It has been discovered that bulimia commonly runs in families, emphasizing that heredity plays a role in the development of this disorder. Bulimia is associated with other psychological disorders, including personality disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Pressure to look thin, particularly among dancers or models, also increases the risk of bulimia.

The signs of bulimia are:

  • Eating uncontrollably during a binge period
  • Forcing oneself to vomit, or vigorous exercise after binging
  • Abusing laxatives or enemas after consuming a large amount of food
  • Fasting          
  • Tendency to use the bathroom after meals
  • Depression, or mood swings
  • Anxiety and isolation
  • Heart burn and indigestion
  • Weakness and exhaustion
  • Obsessed with weight and appearence
  • Swollen glands in neck and face
  • Dental problems
  • Irregular menstruation

If left untreated, bulimia may result in a number of complications, including:

  • Dental cavities
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Disruption of normal bowel movements
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling in salivary glands
  • Ruptures in stomach and esophagus

People with eating disorders receive psychological counseling to overcome the urge to binge and purge. Antidepressants may be recommended in some cases. Any treatment option received tends to restore healthy eating habits of the individual suffering from this disorder.