Home > Risks & Warnings > Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics

Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 19 Sep 2017 | 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
@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
Wiil i ever see you- Your Question:
As the mother of a 30 year old adult daughter with an easting disorder, I fear that I will outlive her. For over 17 years, I have lived with the guilt that I caused this condition. I have seen professionals in order to help me deal with this disease. I do not have the training or skill set to help her, and she refuses medical assistance. I have tremendous compassion for anyone who develops an eating disorder. I hope you get well. For any parent or loved one suffering watching someone you love waste away, and jeopardize their health, I understand your distress. I have no idea what I did to "cause" this (if I did) - only that I fear every day the long-term medical consequences for my daughter. This is heartbreaking. I sincerely hope anyone suffering can benefit from the help of trained professionals.

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this and it is common for parents to somehow feel responsible. However, I'm sure you have been told by therapists that it’s not your fault. Your daughter has an illness. Whether that illness manifests itself physically, such as Parkinsons, MS etc or pyschologically, bi-polar, anxiety etc, it is neither your daughter or your own actions that have caused this. Have you thought of trying to connect with group of parents who are going through the same issues or perhaps channelling yourself into helping other parents cope with the disorder? As it sounds like you have the compassion and the empathy to help not just your daughter but others. In turn, it might give you the support and help that you too need, so you are not dealing with this in isolation. I hope this helps.
EatingDisorderExpert - 27-Oct-15 @ 10:21 AM
As the mother of a 30 year old adult daughter with an easting disorder, I fear that I will outlive her. For over 17 years, I have lived with the guilt that I caused this condition. I have seen professionals in order to help me deal with this disease. I do not have the training or skill set to help her, and she refuses medical assistance. I have tremendous compassion for anyone who develops an eating disorder. I hope you get well. For any parent or loved one suffering watching someone you love waste away, and jeopardize their health, I understand your distress. I have no idea what I did to "cause" this (if I did) - only that I fear every day the long-term medical consequences for my daughter. This is heartbreaking. I sincerely hope anyone suffering can benefit from the help of trained professionals.
Wiil i ever see you - 26-Oct-15 @ 12:18 AM
@Cashew - that is a long time to have this condition and your body will have suffered a lot of long term irriversable damage. However, the body is an amazing thing and where it can, it will recover, if you stop the damage you are doing to it, of course. Good luck.
DRS - 5-Oct-15 @ 2:51 PM
I've suffered from bulimia alternating with aneroxia since I was aprox. 10 yrs old. I'm now 51 do I have a chance of ever recovering? I have chest pain, swollen glands, bloated, excessively dry skin, and sometimes blood in my vomit.
Cashew - 5-Oct-15 @ 5:14 AM
I've been binging and purging for the past three years and have recently been bleeding in small doses, I don't really class this as an eating disorder as I'm 9 stone but should I go to a doctor about the bleed. I haven't dicussed this with anyone else as i prefer to deal with overcoming this on my own.I tend to binge and purge everyday but somtimes not excessive.
dkearl - 3-Jun-12 @ 7:16 PM
I have suffered from anorexia since 13years old.i am now 54.is there any hope?
Rachel - 31-Oct-11 @ 7:47 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Panda
    Re: Pica Disorder
    @ikkynumberone - go and seek some help from your doc. What clothes? How? How can you swallow material, it must be very difficult.
    6 October 2017
  • ikkynumberone
    Re: Pica Disorder
    hi i am 16 years old and i have a really bad addiction to eating clothes i have been doing this since i was 9 my family just think its a joke but…
    3 October 2017
  • Fee
    Re: Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics
    @Lissa - you should definitely go to your doctors. It might be something like your gallbladder, but it's always…
    29 September 2017
  • Lissa
    Re: Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics
    Im having sharp pains in my upper stomach closer to my ribs, i get very dizy, my head aches, if im honest my…
    29 September 2017
  • JoJo
    Re: Lanugo and Eating Disorders
    @Ash - it may be dark if you or your hair are naturally dark.
    28 September 2017
  • Ash
    Re: Lanugo and Eating Disorders
    Can lanugo be dark? I'm not white, but I have noticed dark, fur like hair all over me. I do have anorexia, but I can't get help for…
    26 September 2017
  • JemO
    Re: Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics
    @sarah - milk and/or milk thistle is good for settling the stomach especially where acid reflux is concerned. Drinking milk…
    22 September 2017
  • sarah
    Re: Oesophagus Problems for Bulimics
    I've been anorexic/bulimic since at least January of this year and I'm now in recovery. It's just increasingly difficult to…
    19 September 2017
  • EatingDisorderExpert
    Re: Why Does Eating Make Me Feel Sick?
    Rsf - Your Question:I've been struggling with bulemia since I was 17. Lately it had gotten really bad, but I really didn't…
    14 September 2017
  • Rsf
    Re: Why Does Eating Make Me Feel Sick?
    I've been struggling with bulemia since I was 17. Lately it had gotten really bad, but I really didn't want to go into the…
    13 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the EatingDisorderExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.