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Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 9 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Bulimia binging purging vomiting

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterised by binging eating large amounts of food in one sitting, followed by purging, disposing of this food either by vomiting or taking laxatives. This binging and purging becomes a cycle and tends to occur several times per week. Serious health risks are associated with bulimia, including problems with the oesophagus due to repeated vomiting. If left unchecked, these problems can become life threatening and have been known to lead to death.

Irritation of the Oesophagus
One of the health concerns associated with bulimia is a constant sore throat. This condition is a result of repetitive vomiting, though this may not be easily recognised if a bulimic purges in secret. When the oesophagus (throat) is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid and bile it becomes irritated and this causes raw areas and discomfort. Inflammation may occur as well which can make the throat and even face appear slightly swollen, especially if an infection has taken hold in the throat or mouth. Irritation to the oesophagus can also make swallowing painful, which means that a bulimic may therefore avoid fluids and run a further risk of dehydration.

Ulcers of the Oesophagus
Worse than an irritation of the oesophagus is an ulcer of the oesophagus, a condition which is also frequently associated with any bulimia involving vomiting as a means of purging. Often oesophageal ulcers are called peptic ulcers, and they result from the oesophagus being worn away by the acid present in vomit. Usually eating or drinking results in greater pain from ulcers of the oesophagus, though sometimes this discomfort is explained away as heart burn. Some ulcers of the oesophagus can even bleed and cause blood to enter the vomit or an individual’s faeces. Medical helps should be sought immediately if this becomes the case.

Rupture of the Oesophagus
Far worse than an irritation or ulcer of the oesophagus is a rupture or tear that is brought on by repeated vomiting. Often such a tear occurs at the mucous membrane that connects the oesophagus to the stomach and results in bright red blood being vomited. This kind of tear is called a Mallory-Weiss tear and can lead to death if it is not examined immediately. Any time blood is present in vomit or faeces, the individual must seek medical help immediately.

Treating Damage to the Oesophagus
Medical professionals can treat damage to the oesophagus that is associated with bulimia, but full healing will not occur until a bulimic is in recovery and has ceased to induce vomiting as a means of purging. Ulcers can be treated with medications including antibiotics, and sometimes surgery can repair ruptures of the oesophagus. Unfortunately, as long as an individual continues to vomit, these treatments lose their effectiveness and may cease to work at all, meaning that further ulcers and/or tears of the oesophagus can occur.

The binging and purging cycle that is associated with bulimia brings with it a number of health concerns, including damage to the oesophagus brought about by repeated vomiting. If left untreated, this damage can eventually lead to death. For further information on oesophagus problems and bulimia, contact a medical health professional or the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.

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Just a little warning out there for people engaging in behaviors......I was anorexic/bulimic for over 20 years. It was extremely severe. After going to Jesus...after all doctors were empty on how to treat me....I started recovering my own way and have been recovered 9 years now helping others with nutrition and exercise for real health. Bulimia is no joke. Besides the obvious dental, digestive and throat problems...and into that GERD, prolapsed rectum, and an oesphageal sphincter so weakened that even a burp will regurgitate the food....as a REFLEX. Too many non recovered individuals this may sound great....but for people trying to recover, it is a huge obstacle. A dentist committed malpractice while trying to bond my teeth, an eliminated bite and no jaw stabilization later.......and the pain and frustration is ridiculous. I know first hand how hard it is to stop eating disorder behavior....please, all reading this..know that the longer it goes on...the worse things get. Recovery is harder and some effects are permanent.
Ande - 9-Jul-18 @ 10:36 PM
A new problem has arrived... I notice a couple tears where my tonsils are. They are sore. It has been harder to purge lately. Especially since I wasn't born with a uvula or a gag reflex... I'm afraid that this can become a problem, but I can't find anything helpful on Google. My birthday is next week, so I can't tell anyone about this yet. If anyone has heard or had this problem, can it heal itself in a week or 2? I can reassure you that ever since this scare yesterday, I have vowed to stop purging altogether. I just need to know if its possible to heal myself
Heather - 26-May-18 @ 8:54 AM
Heather - Your Question:
I've suffered bulimia for a couple years now. I'm 16. I have a cleft lip and palate and I've had many surgeries including a throat flap procedure. I can't stop purging, everyday I'm afraid the skin connecting my throat to palate will rip. The base of my throat is sore and uncomfortable. I can't tell anyone because I've been in hospitals 5 times, and if I have to go again, I have to be in a residential for at least 2 years. Please someone tell me my throat problems are normal

Our Response:
If the base of your throat is sore and uncomfortable, then it is not normal. By evading/avoiding dealing with your issue your problem is only going to get worse. You are postponing the inevitable and you could end up in a worse position than if you don't get treatment now. I can only advise you to see your GP and seek treatment before you do irreversible damage.
EatingDisorderExpert - 24-May-18 @ 11:59 AM
I really need some advice as quick as possible please
Heather - 23-May-18 @ 5:09 PM
I've suffered bulimia for a couple years now. I'm 16. I have a cleft lip and palate and I've had many surgeries including a throat flap procedure. I can't stop purging, everyday I'm afraid the skin connecting my throat to palate will rip. The base of my throat is sore and uncomfortable. I can't tell anyone because I've been in hospitals 5 times, and if I have to go again, I have to be in a residential for at least 2 years. Please someone tell me my throat problems are normal
Heather - 23-May-18 @ 4:52 PM
@myself - OMG - It must be terrible if you can't get free medical help as you can on the NHS (I live in the UK and take it for granted that I can get help when needed). I really empathise with you. You really need to stop, or you could kill yourself.
ElleG - 21-May-18 @ 9:31 AM
Hi,I am,56,Year's old. I look like I am,about,fortyfive,year's old. I began with my bulimia at the age of about,19,When I was living in Texas.I stand about,six foot,Three inches,I am a male,And in the begging I stood about,six foot,3,inches,And weight was about,250.Lbs-Now-I-weigh-135-Lbs-But,I went through a lot a severe trauma in my life-So-I-Dealt-with-bulimia-as-a-way-of-dealing-with-my-trauma-upbringing--pain- I thought if I could loose weight I could be excepted. I began vomiting many times a day,Took a couple of laxitives a day,Till it got to be about,100,A day,They no longer worked. So I began to drink,bottle after bottle of milk of mag a day,Along with vomiting,To where so much blood came out of my rectum,I had to throw my clothes awayAnd now I can hardly talk,Becouse I choke so much,Due to my last,Thirtyfive year's of vomiting-Now-I-can-not-stop-chocking.I can not get help,Becouse I do NOT have enough insurance to make the Dr. happy. So please tell me,What would you suggest please
myself - 20-May-18 @ 9:39 AM
@Andprice - if you have been bulimic for over 20 years, then it is likely you will have some stomach problems as a result. But see the doctor if you are concerned. Great that you now have a healthy attitude to food, really pleased for you. I'm there too now and it all seems like a distant memory.
Hof - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:01 PM
I've been in recovery for ten years...with very mild lapses (e.g. Forced vomiting after drinking excessively although this is very infrequent). I have the healthiest attitude I've ever had to food, however I often feel nausea, especially early in the morning and I'm always swallowing things down the wrong way. I want to know whether this is normal? I was bulimic for over 20 years. Thanks
Andprice - 2-Apr-18 @ 4:28 PM
@Dee - Many people have weakended stomach muscles as a result of many years of vomiting along with ruptures and tears in the stomach wall, all of which can give pain and after the years of abuse. There is nothing to make you disbelieve what your GP or consultants are saying, but there's not much that can be done once the damage has been done :( Younger people who binge and purge without informed knowledge of what the future can bring are asking for trouble. We should have more people like you who have suffered later on in life give talks at hospitals and schools to highlight the long term dangers.
Roccob - 4-Jan-18 @ 3:11 PM
I'm 55, heavily bulimic since 17, at times in life sic after every mouthful, meal or drink.Terrified of feeling full. Taken to a psychiatrist at 22 who sat me down with a tiny piece of card and two pencils and made me pick the pencils, pretend to eat, putting down the pencils while pretending to chew and she told me that's how I would eat from now on. At 34 I asked for help again and saw someone who did help.It was very different but my bulimia has never stopped I don't know why I do it I have a sensible brain but I don't understand.I now have terrible pains down in my lower chest n stomach area.When I breathe in and out I can feel it.I've not put my fingers down my throat to br sick for at least 30 years.I just bend over and can ne sick.I wake up with it and it's worse when I eat.I've been to the doctors but not said I'm still believing but they can't tell me what's wrong I'm getting really worried who should I ask for help what do you think it is im frightened and trying to stop many thanks Dee
Dee - 4-Jan-18 @ 7:28 AM
Andrea - Your Question:
I need help. I made my self throw up on a daily basis and only once I vomited and not much but a little blood was in my vomit. I’m too afraid fraud to tell my parents and I think I might have to I’ve had a sore throat for a while now. But my question is, can Bulimia cure on its own. As in, can it go away or stop if you do a certain thing?? Thanks for you help, Andrea.

Our Response:
Most people do need some form of treatement to help them through this illness, as it is rare that once it becomes a regular pattern it will go away of its own accord. You can see the link here for more information.
EatingDisorderExpert - 30-Nov-17 @ 11:41 AM
I need help. I made my self throw up on a daily basis and only once I vomited and not much but a little blood was in my vomit. I’m too afraid fraud to tell my parents and I think I might have to I’ve had a sore throat for a while now. But my question is, can Bulimia cure on its own. As in, can it go away or stop if you do a certain thing?? Thanks for you help, Andrea.
Andrea - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:25 AM
I've suffered from my eating disorder since I was 10 yrs old and I want to stop but it seems like it is the only control I have in my life
Buttercup - 14-Nov-17 @ 1:39 AM
@sarah - milk and/or milk thistle is good for settling the stomach especially where acid reflux is concerned. Drinking milk puts a lining on the stomach, alkalises the acid and helps digestion. Medicine that stops acid reflux should also work.
JemO - 22-Sep-17 @ 12:02 PM
I've been anorexic/bulimic since at least January of this year and I'm now in recovery. It's just increasingly difficult to eat more and eat a variety of foods, especially now that I'm feeling bloated all the time. The past 2 nights I've barely slept due to acid reflux. Today is the first time it's bothered me for most of the day. I took Tums, probiotic supplements and some medicine for acid reflux, but I'm not sure it'll work.
sarah - 19-Sep-17 @ 11:06 PM
I suffered for years from all sorts of different ways of eating disorders but mostly bulimia. I've stopped for about two years now. I still suffer with swallowing though, I seem to be able to eat properly in the first three bites of food but after that the food just won't go down or I can't swallow without gagging so I have to wash food down quickly with water. Has any one else experience this ?
Clareu - 3-Sep-17 @ 11:20 AM
I became bulimic when I was 14 years old I did it when I was stressed out and I noticed a difference in my body.For me it started when I felt completely out of control and my whole world was stressed out so I kept it a secret and I did it up to the age of 35 and then I tried to stop and now I'm 41 and I still have relapses I noticed lately that sometimes food gets stuck in my throat and I cannot get it to go down or come up and I feel like I'm choking to death. I feel like this was self-induced and it stresses me out again because the last thing I want to do is choked to death. I've tried to stop 100% but sometimes I feel like it's the only way to release the stress and pain I feel. Can you please let me know if this is caused by my bulimic and do I need to seek help so I don't choke to death.I would appreciate some positive feedback thank you.
Niki - 8-Apr-17 @ 10:20 PM
I've been bulimic for a little I've 10 yrs. I'm working on stopping. I also abuse alcohol. The other day after my 3rd shot I vomited brown gunk that smelled like copper (blood), now it's hard to swallow. I feel everything go down my esophagus. Will I self heal if I just quit?
Sil - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:02 PM
I've been bulimic for a little I've 100 yrs. I'm working on stopping. I also abuse alcohol. The other day after my 3rd shot I vomited brown gunk that smelled like copper (blood), now it's hard to swallow. I feel everything go down my esophagus. Will I self heal if I just quit?
Sil - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:01 PM
@Madge - It makes me happy and gives me hope to think you have managed to overcome this - and despite it being such a long hall for you. I'm sure your symptoms will get better with time. Well done. Di <3
DD - 17-Feb-17 @ 1:59 PM
I was bulimic from the age of 11 upto 42 years of age I'm now 49 and suffer a feeling of tight throat on swallowing I will need my oesophagus stretching which will be most unpleasant I'm sure people are bulimic for all sorts of reasons mine wasunhappy child experiences which I felt got some sort of relief when being sick but I'm in a good place now but always in the back of my mind is the lurking need to be sick but you have to say no .to yourself and stay healthy
Madge - 16-Feb-17 @ 7:22 PM
Ultratara- Your Question:
I've been recovered for close to 10 years, but I suffered from a severe eating disorder from age 14-30 and had periods of excessive purging (up to 12 times per day). Even though I've not purged in years I recently started having difficulty swallowing, and it appears that I have a lot of scar tissue in the back of my throat. I'm not 100% sure but I'm wondering if this is common and if there is any treatment for it.

Our Response:
We are glad to hear you are still in recovery, which is the main thing. However, you would really have to seek professional medical advice regarding this, as every individual is different and every person will have a different diagnosis.
EatingDisorderExpert - 23-Dec-16 @ 10:21 AM
I've been recovered for close to 10 years, but I suffered from a severe eating disorder from age 14-30 and had periods of excessive purging (up to 12 times per day). Even though I've not purged in years I recently started having difficulty swallowing, and it appears that I have a lot of scar tissue in the back of my throat. I'm not 100% sure but I'm wondering if this is common and if there is any treatment for it.
Ultratara - 22-Dec-16 @ 8:28 AM
I was bulemic for twenty five years. I stopped about 8 years ago, and have not vomited. I did feel sick the other day, and when I did try to vomit, it felt like my throat was turning inside out, and it was very frightening. I am able to swallow fine, and my throat does not hurt. any thoughts on what this is?
m - 31-Oct-16 @ 4:29 AM
I have been bulimic now over 14months, I purge almost everyday and sometimes 3 times a day. I also take laxatives but not as regular as I work long hours. I have had a sore throat for few weeks and my tongue is sore and bleeds a little from a taste bud when I brush it, not had blood in vomit as yet which I'm relieved about. Any ideas why I'm in sore in my throat and tongue.
Just me - 17-Jun-16 @ 6:24 PM
Jen - Your Question:
I am 18; I have had bulimia for two years and am suffering relapse. I just recently purged and a tiny bit of blood was present. I am terrified. I know my habits are bad and harmful, and I have a support team, but I'm afraid to admit relapse. What can I do presently to aid the restoration of my throat?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear of your relapse. Dependent upon the extent of the damage, small tears usually heal in a couple of days if you are gentle with your body and cease purging. I assume you have spoken to your support team who will be able to advise you directly. However, once these tears begin, then the problem will get worse if you continue and as specified in the article, it can lead to more serious effects and symptoms further down the line.
EatingDisorderExpert - 14-Dec-15 @ 1:51 PM
I am 18; I have had bulimia for two years and am suffering relapse. I just recently purged and a tiny bit of blood was present. I am terrified... I know my habits are bad and harmful, and I have a support team, but I'm afraid to admit relapse... What can I do presently to aid the restoration of my throat?
Jen - 13-Dec-15 @ 5:08 AM
Tash - Your Question:
I'm 41, I have had bulemia and anorexia since I was 14. Aboit 2 years ago I started having trouble swallowing and was diagnosed with dysphagia. I have this continous globulas feeling in my throat. No matter how much I swallow, it just won't go down. I choke really easy, especially on thin liquids. I do not throw up at all now unless I am sick or nauseous. I know my throat problems are only going to worsen the older I get.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. There are treatments for this condition which have been successful. They include neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) carried out in partner with swallowing therapy with the aim of helping patients to tolerate an oral diet. Perhaps you should have a word with your GP, to see if there is a consultant or therapist he/she can refer you to.
EatingDisorderExpert - 4-Dec-15 @ 12:16 PM
I'm 41, I have had bulemia and anorexia since I was 14. Aboit 2 years ago I started having trouble swallowing and was diagnosed with dysphagia. I have this continous globulas feeling in my throat. No matter how much I swallow, it just won't go down. I choke really easy, especially on thin liquids. I do not throw up at all now unless I am sick or nauseous. I know my throat problems are only going to worsen the older I get.
Tash - 4-Dec-15 @ 3:11 AM
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