How Bulimia Nervosa Affects The Body

Published on March 20th, 2024

How Bulimia Nervosa Affects The Body

Bulimia nervosa (bulimia) is an eating disorder that has significant effects on a person’s mental and physical health. It is a disorder that can cause a person to experience anxiety about weight. People who suffer from bulimia engage in unhealthy cycles of bingeing and purging to prevent weight gain. They may also engage in severe exercise regimens and diets in place of or along with purging after a binge.

Bulimia sufferers binge eat, in which they consume a lot of food quickly—usually in less than two hours. Bingeing involves eating a large quantity of food quickly. Even when they are comfortably full, they will not stop eating. They will then use compensatory behaviors to make up for the binge. These behaviors may include vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise. The purpose of purging behavior is to avoid gaining weight.

The Effects Of Bulimia On The Body

Bulimia has serious medical and physical health consequences when left untreated. The destructive behaviors of bingeing and purging impact an affected person’s health. Over time, a person with bulimia may suffer from significant medical consequences. They also suffer from ongoing mental health challenges that cause emotional pain and distress. The following are common ways bulimia affects the body and mind:

Body Image Issues. A person with bulimia will typically have low self-esteem. They have a poor body image and believe they are not valued or valuable. Feelings of inadequacy or discontent cause a person with bulimia to use symptomatic behaviors as a way to cope with emotional stress.

Mood Changes. Just like anyone else suffering from a serious mental health disorder, people with bulimia have a lot going on in their minds. If you struggle with bulimia, chances are you have noticed mood fluctuations. This is often from a combination of:

Depression surrounding self-perception or life circumstances, experiences, and traumas are common. Anxiety around food or being held back from using binge-and-purge behaviors also contributes to mood swings.

People with bulimia also tend to struggle with feelings of shame and helplessness. These feelings stem from frustration when feeling out of control or carrying out unhealthy behaviors.

Appearance Changes. Bingeing and purging is an unhealthy way to control body shape and size. There are also consequences on your body that you may not realize. For example, dried, cracked knuckles and hand callouses are often a side effect of purging. This is due to people with bulimia often putting their fingers down their throat as the go-to approach to purging.

Purging can also cause damage to areas of your mouth. Over time, the stomach bile that comes up with the vomit contributes to yellowing teeth, enamel erosion, chapped lips, and swollen gums and jaw. Continued use of purging can also cause puffy cheeks from swollen salivary glands.

Anorexia Nervosa. Bulimia has the potential to develop into anorexia nervosa. The basic goal of bulimic behavior is to prevent weight gain. People with bulimia do not restrict their diets as severely as those with anorexia. The indicative factor that the condition has progressed to anorexia is low body weight. Once an affected person’s body mass index (BMI) reaches a level below average they are at risk of developing anorexia.

Anorexia is a serious condition that causes a person to restrict their diet and engage in excessive measures to prevent weight gain. It puts people at risk for serious medical issues, including heart failure and sudden death.

Heart Failure. If you struggle with bulimia, you may not realize the internal damage being done to your body. If you purge through vomiting, your body’s electrolyte levels are likely out of balance. Electrolyte imbalances take an extreme toll on the heart’s functioning, causing uncomfortable heart palpitations. These heart palpitations are an indicator of a more serious heart condition and should not be ignored. If left untreated, bulimia increases the risk of heart attack and heart disease.

Internal Damage. The act of purging causes stomach acid to be pushed throughout the body. It also causes strain on the stomach muscles and internal organs. This is because muscles forcefully retract when vomiting and other purging efforts are induced. Common side effects of bingeing and purging include:

These side effects cause discomfort for the affected person. They also serve as warning signs for more serious and long-term health consequences. Such long-term health consequences include:

Blood in your vomit may be due to tearing of the esophagus, indicating the need to seek immediate medical attention. Vomiting regularly can also create stomach issues that seriously impact your body’s ability to break down and process food. When left untreated, bulimia can lead to devastating consequences for the affected person. Get help today if you are suffering from bulimia or disordered eating.

Need to talk to someone?

Find an affordable therapist online with 20% off from BetterHelp.

Click Here

Link To This Article

Leave A Reply