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Bulimia Nervosa

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Bulimia bulimia Nervosa eating

Bulimia Nervosa more commonly known as bulimia, is an eating disorder that manifests itself through binge eating followed by purging behaviours such as vomiting or taking laxatives. There are many myths surrounding bulimia, but below you will find basic answers to some frequently asked questions about this disorder.

What Causes Bulimia?
There is no single known cause of bulimia but is known that, like all eating disorders, bulimia is often linked to low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control. Bulimia also seems to occur in individuals who are in environments which, place a great deal of value upon thinness and physical appearance. Though it is manifested in food issues and eating behaviours, and thus described as an eating disorder, bulimia is also a mental health issue.

What are the Signs/Symptoms of Bulimia?
Bulimia is often recognised due to an individual’s behaviours regarding food, weight and eating. Some of the common warning signs of bulimia include binging, or eating a great amount of food in one sitting and purging, or attempting to get rid of the food that was eaten by inducing vomiting or taking laxatives or diuretics. Often bulimics will hide the food on which they binge – which is often carbohydrates such as bread and pasta or sweets including desserts and ice creams – lie about what they have eaten, purge in secret, hide items such as laxatives or diuretics, and show a great deal of concern for body weight, body shape and overall image. Bulimics may also have dental trouble or frequent sore throats due to repeated vomiting, and some may develop scars on the fingers that they use to induce vomiting.

Who Is Affected By Bulimia?
Like most eating disorders, bulimia is usually diagnosed in women though there are some men who suffer from it as well. Bulimia is also present across all races, religions and income levels though the stereotypical “face” of bulimia is often depicted as late teens or early twenties, female, Caucasian and middle class. Bulimics are also often considered to be perfectionists or high achievers who lose control during a binge and then feel great relief when they have purged.

What Are the Health Effects of Bulimia?
Bulimics often have health problems related to their eating behaviours. Many bulimics tend to be slightly overweight due to their binges and frequently suffer from sore throats and dental issues due to vomiting. Bulimics may also induce electrolyte imbalances in their bodies in which the required amounts of sodium and potassium are either not met or are over-supplied. This imbalance can lead to damage of the heart muscle and/or heart attacks. Bulimics also tend to be susceptible to depression and to changing behaviours and becoming anorexic.

Is there a Cure for Bulimia?
There is no quick cure for bulimia, but there are a variety of treatment options. Often treatments will include counselling/therapy, family counselling/therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (to change food and eating behaviours), the use of support groups or group therapy, and nutritional counselling and planning. Rarely is medication used to treat bulimia unless it is prescribed to treat an associated condition such as depression.

Where Can I Find Further Information About Bulimia?
Further information about bulimia can be obtained from a GP, a private mental health specialist, a nutritionist or from any other medical professional. The Eating Disorder Association is also an excellent resource for information on bulimia, as is the National Centre for Eating Disorders.

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Are there more ways 2 find out if some one has bulimia?
shaz kidd - 9-Jan-12 @ 12:37 PM
This information has really helped me. before I opened this website I didn't really no alot about bulimia. It has really helped me to understand it and now everything matches up to my sisters signs. Thanks!
kel - 6-Jun-11 @ 11:02 AM
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