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Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 3 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorders anorexia bulimia

Anorexics and bulimics often suffer from a variety of physical ailments related to their eating disorders. Anorexics or those who fear weight gain and combat it by decreasing their caloric intake, can suffer from the effects of malnutrition including a weakening of the stomach muscles, ulcers, and stomach “shrinking” or distending. Bulimics, or individuals who routinely binge and then purge, can also suffer from stomach problems such as a similar weakening of the stomach muscles, ruptures or tears in the stomach walls, stomach pain or a general upset stomach and stomach ulcers. These problems all present very real health risks, and if left untreated they can even lead to death.

Anorexia and Stomach Problems
When anorexics severely limit their caloric intake they often lose a great amount of weight in a short amount of time, leaving them at least 15% below a weight that would be considered healthy for their age and height. This weight loss leaves them with little body fat, but it can also reduce general muscle mass and tone as well, including a weakening of the stomach muscles and possible damage to the nerves which signal the stomach to digest and pass food. If this occurs there can be delays in how efficiently the stomach empties when food is introduced. This situation is often referred to as delayed stomach emptying or gastroparesis.

If stomach emptying takes too long, food can actually ferment in the stomach and cause bacterial problems. Food can also harden in the stomach, forming solid lumps known as bezoars, which themselves can cause stomach pain and vomiting. In addition to these concerns, anorexia can also lead to ulcers in the stomach when there is no food to protect the stomach walls from stomach acids, and a hard, swollen distended stomach can result from both bacterial infections and ulcers. The lack of food ingested by anorexics can also lead to “shrunk” stomachs that feel fuller faster and can not accommodate normal amounts of food until they are gently “stretched” with slightly larger snacks and meals.

Bulimia and Stomach Problems
In contrast to anorexics, bulimics generally have stomach problems that are related to eating too much food in one sitting (binging) and then getting rid of this food either by inducing vomiting or taking laxatives (purging). Bulimics can also suffer from weakened stomach muscles, damaged nerves and resulting gastroparesis which means that they can also suffer from bacterial problems, bezoars, and distended stomachs. Bulimics can also suffer from stomach ulcers due to the constant presence of stomach acid (particularly in those who vomit as a means of purging). Repeating purging can also lead to ruptures or tears in the stomach wall, and general feelings of nausea and stomach pain even if no binging or purging has occurred that day.

Stomach problems are just a few of the health risks that accompany both anorexia and bulimia. Unfortunately these problems can be incredibly painful and long-lasting, and almost all of them can lead to greater health problems if they are not treated immediately. If left unexamined, stomach problems associated with eating disorders could even lead to death, so any consistent stomach problem should be investigated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

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Annie T - Your Question:
Please help me. My daughter is in college. She just called to tell me she's bulmic and had been for a year. She can't do it but is scared and wants help. I feel so bad I didn't know but realize now there were signs she's always had issues with self worth and esteem. I'm helping her find a counselor near her college but feel so helpless. What is the cause? Is there something I should have done or should do now. She's a bright beautiful girl with lots of friends. She's only told me. I feel so bad for her. Any advice would be helpful and prayers welcome. Thank you

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Try not to blame yourself for your child's disorder and accept that you may never know what triggered it. Your best option is to accept that your child has an illness and focus on recovery, please see Family Lives link here, from which you can find out more. Doing as much research as you can and talking to as many professionals as you can will help you educate yourself and help you to also make informed decisions regarding what you think is in the best interests of your child at this sensitive time.
EatingDisorderExpert - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:23 PM
Please help me. My daughter is in college. She just called to tell me she's bulmic and had been for a year. She can't do it but is scared and wants help. I feel so bad I didn't know but realize now there were signs she's always had issues with self worth and esteem.I'm helping her find a counselor near her college but feel so helpless. What is the cause?Is there something I should have done or should do now. She's a bright beautiful girl with lots of friends. She's only told me. I feel so bad for her. Any advice would be helpful and prayers welcome. Thank you
Annie T - 3-Dec-17 @ 10:39 PM
Hi there ive been a bulimic for almost 6 years but recently ive started getting intense pain in my left side of my abdomen..i havent got any overies so i knows its not that..i feel like ive got aches and pains like you do with a bug
Dolphin - 23-Nov-17 @ 4:58 PM
ZMS - Your Question:
Hi, so I’ve became bulimic from the past few months and recently I’ve tried to stop it by keeping food down but if I do I have massive pains in my stomache, they’re are similar pains to period pains but I just know they’re not. Is it because of my bulimia or is it something else? Thanks - Zoe

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot attempt to give a diagnosis online, for obvious reasons. You would have to visit your GP to find out more.
EatingDisorderExpert - 20-Nov-17 @ 3:05 PM
Hi, so I’ve became bulimic from the past few months and recently I’ve tried to stop it by keeping food down but if I do I have massive pains in my stomache, they’re are similar pains to period pains but I just know they’re not. Is it because of my bulimia or is it something else? Thanks - Zoe
ZMS - 18-Nov-17 @ 2:36 PM
@Lissa - you should definitely go to your doctors. It might be something like your gallbladder, but it's always worth getting yourself checked out, especially if the pain is not going away.
Fee - 29-Sep-17 @ 2:59 PM
Im having sharp pains in my upper stomach closer to my ribs, i get very dizy, my head aches, if im honest my whole body hurts. Ive been very sick for a while but this pain has me laying down right now. Im just curious if i should go to the hospital my stomach has been hurting something fierce for days now
Lissa - 29-Sep-17 @ 6:39 AM
@Mary oatsvall - right behind you Mary - I hope you conquer this <3
MissusF - 8-Sep-17 @ 12:49 PM
I'm on day 2 from puking and I'm 84lbs and I'm 5 4 and I don't want to die I want to live and be there for my son to grow up i want to get better and I'm 10000% am going to fight this I'm not gonna let this get the best of me no way I'm just having belly bloated and I know it will go away it's gonna take time but I'm going to hold my food in
Mary oatsvall - 7-Sep-17 @ 9:46 PM
Hi there I have suffered with being bulimic for am by years but over the last year it has got worse I'm making my self sick atleast 3 to 8 times a day only recently after few months everytime I be sick it's like I have this painfull dull similar to like period pains at the bottom of my stomach seems worse after I been sick sat here in pain at moment do you know what this could be in also always tired and have no energy also lots of headaches?
Ciaralexi - 16-Aug-17 @ 4:47 PM
Susan1951 - Your Question:
So worried. Sara age 34 has been anorexic for 9 years having weighed 13 stone and lost 7 stone. She is painfully thin.5 ft 6 ins tall.a head teacher and lives alone. I am helpless. I am her mum but I am treading on eggshells every minute of my life. I feel I cannot talk to her about her anorexia. And I am so so sad. Has any one any suggestions please. I really need advice. Thank you so muchSue

Our Response:
Sorry to hear this - it must be so upsetting and heartbreaking for you as a mother to watch your daughter going through this. As you probably are well aware, it is not unusual for people with anorexia to become depressed, obsessive and angry and lash out at those who are closest to them. In their heads they know they have a serious mental condition but are bound by a feeling of helplessness as the illness has taken control. This is not your daughter you are dealing with, but the illness and the irrational voices in her head that are controlling her thoughts. You need support also in order to help your daughter. Please see link here. I imagine you have been through a lot in this nine years, but your only option is to continue to try every angle to work through this with her, but you also need to look after yourself.
EatingDisorderExpert - 24-Jul-17 @ 12:38 PM
So worried. Sara age 34 has been anorexic for 9 years having weighed 13 stone and lost 7 stone. She is painfully thin .5 ft 6 ins tall.a head teacher and lives alone. I am helpless. I am her mum but I am treading on eggshells every minute of my life. I feel I cannottalk to her about her anorexia. And I am so so sad. Has any one any suggestions please. I really need advice . Thank you so much Sue
Susan1951 - 22-Jul-17 @ 1:02 AM
I haven't had a proper meal in 4 days, I haven't had dinner at all. Just like one snack each day because i was so busy I didn't want to eat. But now I've got horrible internal pains in my belly, if I move it puts me into tears, I can't touch my belly at all either. This pain has Continued for 3 days now and isn't the first time I have got it. The pain is usually just above my belly button but some days it's everywhere.
Sandra - 16-Jun-17 @ 7:29 AM
I have been skinny-obsessed since I was 15 ; 40 years ! I never weigh, but am probably about 98 lbs at 5'4". I am happy this way, but have crippling stomach problems which it's now too late to fix.
thinforever - 10-Jun-17 @ 10:13 AM
Remma - Your Question:
Hi I've took laxatives for years but never made my self sick. For awhile now I've been waking through night feeling sick and vomiting just a small mouthful? Does anyone know what this could be?

Our Response:
As you may well be aware, prolonged use of laxatives can have harmful effects on your bowels, stomach and disturb the natural levels of salts and minerals in your body. We cannot attempt to diagnose what may be the cause of your vomiting, but if you are experiencing troublesome or persistent side effects while taking laxatives, you would really need to visit your GP.
EatingDisorderExpert - 1-Jun-17 @ 2:09 PM
Hi I've took laxatives for years but never made my self sick. Forawhile now I've been waking through night feeling sick and vomiting just a small mouthful? Does anyone know what this could be?
Remma - 1-Jun-17 @ 4:40 AM
I eat 500 calories in the week and burn that but then on the weekend i eat 900 calories is this an ed or not
Ella - 7-May-17 @ 5:42 PM
Millie- Your Question:
Hi! I am 15 and have never really commented on one of these sights before so don't know what to expect! For the past 5 months now I have been having problems with my weight and went down from 8stone 1 to 6 stone 12 probably lower and am 5 foot 5 I have been constantly counting calories and restricting myself to about 800 per day. My family keep telling me to eat more as well as my sailing coaches but I feel if I don't exercise I can't eat. Recently I have been eating a bit more and so have bloated. This makes me feel as though I want to loose more weight. I also only ate one meal for 2 days last week and my friends were very concerned. I just don't really know what to do and my family are beginning to think I am depressed as I have been in a low mood for 2 months. I am also terrified of gaining weight and examine my body every day.

Our Response:
You will know yourself whether your are dieting healthily or whether you may be developing a problem. Eating one meal across two days is not healthy - you need to eat three meals a day. Keeping a check on calories and portions sizes is the healthy dieting option, skipping meals is not. If you feel you are beginning to control and obsess about your weight or not eating this can lead to further problems and spiral out of control. If you feel that it is, please seek help from someone. The likes of Childline herecan help you recognise if you have a problem. The fact you have got in touch via this site, means you think you may have a problem - so this is the first step - which is positive. Nip this in the bud, seek help and don't let your problem get out of hand.
EatingDisorderExpert - 5-May-17 @ 12:56 PM
Hi! I am 15 and have never really commented on one of these sights before so don't know what to expect! For the past 5 months now I have been having problems with my weight and went down from 8stone 1 to 6 stone 12 probably lower and am 5 foot 5 I have been constantly counting calories and restricting myself to about 800 per day. My family keep telling me to eat more as well as my sailing coaches but I feel if I don't exercise I can't eat. Recently I have been eating a bit more and so have bloated. This makes me feel as though i want to loose more weight. I also only ate one meal for 2 days last week and my friends were very concerned. I just don't really know what to do and my family are beginning to think I am depressed as I have been in a low mood for 2 months. I am also terrified of gaining weight and examine my body every day.
Millie - 4-May-17 @ 7:10 PM
Lost - Your Question:
I recently became anorexic due to a phobia of throwing up. since December of last year I've lost 36 lbs. I'm 26 , 5'10 and weigh 110 lbs. I was recently diagnosed with gastroparesis. And I'm wondering if my lack of eating is the cause of this. I've had stomach problems my whole life but they seem to have gotten worse the longer I've went without eating. In the last two months I've not ate more days than I've ate. I just feel so hopeless at this point. I know the only way to fix my problems is to eat. but I'm scared to death to do it. I'm just so depressed at this point. It just feels like I'm in a vicious cycle and I don't know if I have the strength to break the cycle and get better. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Our Response:
This kind of weight loss is obviously not good for your health on many levels and will certainly have repercussions down the line. You really need to visit your GP and ask for help as you will also require counselling in order to aid your recovery.
EatingDisorderExpert - 26-Apr-17 @ 2:46 PM
I recently became anorexic due to a phobia of throwing up.. since December of last year I've lost 36 lbs. I'm 26 , 5'10 and weigh 110 lbs .. I was recently diagnosed with gastroparesis. And I'm wondering if my lack of eating is the cause of this.I've had stomach problems my whole life but they seem to have gotten worse the longer I've went without eating.In the last two months I've not ate more days than I've ate. I just feel so hopeless at this point. I know the only way to fix my problems is to eat.. but I'm scared to death to do it ... I'm just so depressed at this point. It just feels like I'm in a vicious cycle and i don't know if I have the strength to break the cycle and get better. Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Lost - 26-Apr-17 @ 4:08 AM
I've been consuming maximum of 500 cals and it's just fruit and chicken I excercise 3 hours nonstop.Im tired and hungry.My family says my weight is normal but I see a lot of fat.I don't think I should eat.Ive just became diagnosed with Anorexia a few days ago
Dalianike - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:42 AM
I have suffered depression and anorexia my whole life on and off since I was 12 due to stress in house hold. I recently decided enough is enough and I've started with little by little getting back to the basics like soup and pnut butter and guacamole but it seems every time I put something in my stomach it starts to hurt and get queezy and I vomit it up mostly milk products or liquids. I've never vomited before (not bullemic) and I honestly hate the feeling of vomiting when I'm trying so hard. I have OCD tendencies could it be that I'm trying to eat too much at once and my stomach isn't used to it? Mostly it's when I have milk products but sometimes it's when I'm just having water. I feel weak and I know I can battle this.
Amandalouise - 20-Feb-17 @ 8:23 PM
I have severe stomach cramping, constant headaches and always feel extremely weak and tired. My friends and family tell me I'm too skinny but I just see fat. I obsessively work out though my lack of energy is making that hard. I eat under 1000 calories each day and panic and/or throw up when I go over. If I am anorexic I am in denial, I get that. Is there any way to make this stop? That I can look in the mirror and see what others do? To stop panic when I eat more? I'm concerned I don't want to be in a hospital, but I can tell I'm heading down that road.
WinglesdAngels - 18-Feb-17 @ 5:33 AM
@Liz - Have you been to your doctors? If you haven't - you should <3 Gill.
GM24 - 15-Feb-17 @ 2:31 PM
I have been struggling with an eating disorder for about 2 years.... I vomit a lot after meals. I don't over eat. I just don't like food being in my body. I'm scared because I can't eat without a terrible pain. I feel it go all the way down to my stomach and it hurts tremendously. Is it maybe just that my esophagus is eroding? And why just now? This is my first time feeling pain when I drink/eat/swallow anything and I'm scared.
Liz - 11-Feb-17 @ 8:06 AM
Idk what's wrong with my body but I can't eat my hairs falling out I'm very little now I feel weak every day of my life in the morning time I'm not Abel to just get out of Bed my tummy hurts so bad for like 45 minutes I can't get up till after the feeling is gone my bones in my tummy our sore I feel them I can't lay on my tummy I can't really clean with out really like I'm bout to die I can't play fight dance around the house I can't even do my hair let a long take a long shower somebody help me the hospital says I'm ok
The lonely girl - 22-Jan-17 @ 10:35 PM
Daughter in hospital with eating disorders Having severe tummy pains was given pain killers started to pass mucky blood not a period.What can be going on?
Catherine - 18-Jan-17 @ 12:40 AM
Ray ray- Your Question:
I'm bulimic. I was bulimic for two half years. Then stopped for a month. Then went back to it slowly. Now I've been bulimic for 2 half months and I found blood in my vomnet. It was a little and light colored. I'm feeling pain in my stomach on the side. I'm scared and want to know if I stop now, for good will I be okay the rest of my years? I'm scared. I have a lil boy, and stopped for a month for him, but after I gave birth after throwing up in my pregnancy do to hormones. I couldn't stop after I gave birth.

Our Response:
I can only suggest you visit your GP as soon as possible, as we certainly couldn't anticipate what the blood may be from, but it is better to seek an opinion earlier rather than later, especially if you are having stomach pains.
EatingDisorderExpert - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:11 AM
I'm bulimic. I was bulimic for two half years. Then stopped for a month. Then went back to it slowly. Now I've been bulimic for 2 half months and I found blood in my vomnet. It was a little and light colored. I'm feeling pain in my stomach on the side. I'm scared and want to know if I stop now, for good will I be okay the rest of my years? I'm scared. I have a lil boy, and stopped for a month for him, but after I gave birth after throwing up in my pregnancy do to hormones. I couldn't stop after I gave birth.
Ray ray - 25-Sep-16 @ 5:06 AM
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