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Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 26 Apr 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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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
I will start from the beginning in 1992 /93 I was 22 years old and I wanted to be thin. I also loved to eat so I became a bulimic and it was the worst probably in my late 20s to mid 30s.. I would go out and buy fast food 4 to 5 times a day and it's was an enormous amount of food .it's become less in the last 10 years since my mid 30s.. I don't think of it like that anymore as a compulsive disorder. It's like a roitinerary that has become part of life.I have been lucky up until 2 months ago and it strated with sovereign back pain that caused me to hardly move and when I did move it hurt and lasted for 3 weeks. In the last 2 months I have been very swollen in the abdominal area and the hips and I have only been 113 in weight and I walked miles everyday to try to have some healthy life style.I wake up shakey. I have this sick and hard to explain feeling from my throat through my esophagus to my stomach. I get sharp pains in my upper abdomen.I have spasms in my esophagus and wakeup out of a sleep when I can sleep with my heart racing . I now have acid reflux and am always uncomfortable in my body. In the last 2 months , I have had ct , mri, mrcp, endoscopy,endoscopic ultrasound and a ton of lab work and for most part it's NORMAL....HOW??? 23 yeas of this and it's normal. I have elevated bilirubin and I feel so sick inside. Like I said it's un unbelievable feeling inside my body that is hard to explain. I don't eat much and vomit as much as I use to in the early days.I haven't for some time but it's still there like routine . I'm lookingfor similar experience to seek answers since we know all these symptoms are not normal.so how can all the test be normal ...
Not Me - 19-Jul-16 @ 12:11 AM
I have been purging for the past few weeks. I am somewhat addicted to it even though I know the risks. I purge 1 a day everyday but I want to know how long until I'll experience stomach stuff?
Allyyy - 13-May-16 @ 4:12 AM
I have been bulimic for about 5+ months now and I experience very low- mild stomach discomfort Do I have time to save myself so that it doesn't get worse?
kieyamoose18 - 20-Mar-16 @ 11:55 AM
dontremember - Your Question:
I had anorexia for 10 years & then recovered. I developed endometriosis & then had a hysterectomy. I have lost weight slowly the course of 6 years because of things that happened after the hysterectomy. I developed pelvic floor Disorder which has made me constipated since 2008 when the endometriosis started. In short I am now at a weight that I never thought I'd be at again. I'm trying to gain weight but I don't remember it being this hard my body reacting to liquid & food the way it is now. a cup of coffee makes my stomach distend the way it never has before. I can't drink my coffee lie I did 4 months ago because it makes my stomach so distended. It's only a cup & a 1/2 of coffee. If I had food on that it protrudes so much, like a child in Ethiopia. I don't remember my stomach ever looking like it is now when I eat/drink. I don't remember it being bloated lie it is now. I'm not "anorexic" again as someone would say. I eat chocolate after dinner to gain weight. I'm not"afraid" of food like I was 10- 20 years ago. It doesn't make sense. I'm not even at my lowest weight( thank goodness) but my stomach is reacting like it is. Why is this. What can I do to get over this distention. I can't fit in my pants because my stomach distended so much so all I can where are sweat pants & pants with a draw sting. even at my lowest eight which is 25 pounds less than I am now It didn't matter what pants I wore. It never bothered me or the stomach distention didn't bother me when I was sat my lowest weight. It doesn't make sense. Yes, I hated being bloated back then but this more than bloating. Maybe it's because my hipbones stick out because I don't have enough fat on me( skin) that it sticks out like that. What are your thoughts? I want to gain weight. I want to look like I did before this endometriosis started. I have always wanted to. I guess it just took me to look like I do now to even try. I don't like the way I look. I am ashamed to go out because of how thin I've become.

Our Response:
The digestive tract in under-eaters slows right down and as a result food moves slowly through it and feels uncomfortable. This explains the heightened sensitivity to feelings of fullness and bloatedness, which is misleading. Please see the National Centre for Eating Disorders link here. Therefore, if it has become an issue, you should visit your GP. I hope this helps.
EatingDisorderExpert - 18-Mar-16 @ 2:06 PM
I had anorexia for 10 years & then recovered. I developed endometriosis & then had a hysterectomy. I have lost weight slowly the course of 6 years because of things that happened after the hysterectomy. I developed pelvic floor Disorder which has made me constipated since 2008 when theendometriosis started. In short I am now at a weight that I never thought I'd be at again. I'm trying to gain weight but i don't remember it being this hard my body reacting to liquid & food the way it is now. a cup of coffee makes my stomach distend the way it never has before. I can't drink my coffee lie I did 4 months ago because it makes my stomach so distended. It's only a cup & a 1/2 of coffee. If I had food on that it protrudes so much, like a child in Ethiopia. I don't remember my stomach ever looking like it is now when I eat/drink. I don't remember it being bloated lie it is now. I'm not "anorexic" again as someone would say. I eat chocolate after dinner to gain weight. I'm not"afraid" of food like I was 10- 20 years ago. It doesn't make sense. I'm not even at my lowest weight( thank goodness) but my stomach is reacting like it is. Why is this. What can I do to get over this distention. I can't fit in my pants because my stomach distended so much so all i can where are sweat pants & pants with a draw sting. even at my lowest eight which is 25 pounds less than I am now It didn't matter what pants I wore. It never bothered me or the stomach distention didn't bother me when I was sat my lowest weight. It doesn't make sense. Yes, I hated being bloated back then but this more than bloating. Maybe it's because my hipbones stick out because I don't have enough fat on me( skin) that it sticks out like that. What are your thoughts? I want to gain weight. I want to look like I did before this endometriosis started. I have always wanted to. I guess it just took me to look like I do now to even try. I don't like the way I look. I am ashamed to go out because of how thin I've become.
dontremember - 17-Mar-16 @ 10:36 PM
Wilting_Flower, I am no expert,but I would like to think that it is never late for anyone,not even for you! I can only imagine what you have been through, however you know that your eating disorder is because you had no control over your life and you realize it, you know how it all started,so focus on that, take baby steps as things cannot change overnight but they can change and they will change for the better gradually, till it is finally resolved. You can work with nutritionists and do counceling, figure out more and get to the bottom of this.Remember, one step at a time...I wish you the very best and fill us in on your progress!
Nat8 - 19-Feb-16 @ 12:32 PM
So for a few months, I have bot been eating well. I think I may be starting to get anorexia. But recently I've been getting really bad stomach pains whenever I eat (even if it's only a little bit) - and in the evening it is especially bad. Does anyone know what this is and how I can stop it?
Becky - 18-Jan-16 @ 9:23 PM
I have struggled with anorexia and bulimia in the past but now that's long over and I'm recovered but recently I have been have cycles of randomly throwing up every 2 weeks. I'm not sure but I think it may be gastroparesis. I randomly feel a headache and tired and nauseated and then a few mintues later I throw up. Do you think it's do to my past eating disorder?
Kat - 25-Sep-15 @ 12:21 PM
FMc - Your Question:
Hi, I have bulimia on and off for about 15 years. I have just experience a sharp stomach pain that then had a burning sensation for a couple of minutes. I have never experienced this before and I'm not sure if this can be normal or if something is wrong. I have had some treatment for this but nothing extensive, it was cognitive behaviour therapy but half way through my treatment they said that the time I had with them wouldn't be enough so I stopped it.

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot give medical advice. However, if you are concerned then I suggest you visit your GP.
EatingDisorderExpert - 21-Aug-15 @ 12:29 PM
Hi, I have bulimia on and offfor about 15 years. I have just experience a sharp stomach pain that then had a burning sensation for a couple of minutes. I have never experienced this before and I'm not sure if this can be normal or if something is wrong. I have had some treatment for this but nothing extensive, it was cognitive behaviour therapy but half way through my treatment they said that the time I had with them wouldn't be enough so I stopped it.
FMc - 20-Aug-15 @ 6:02 PM
I became anorexic because I had no control over my life. My relationship was falling apart and it seemed like my whole life was. The only thing I had control over was what I put in my mouth. So as what started as a means to feel like I had regained control has now turned into the thing in my life that I have complete lost control over. I thought I was helping myself by collecting recipes and trying to remember how much I used to enjoy food. Now, I just realize that all this collecting and cooking for everyone is another way to control food. I am tired of dreading every day where I have to fight to eat knowing, that it's so much simpler if I just don't eat. My stomach hurts all the time. I feel full after two bites of food. How can I ever get better when I feel like I can't eat even if I wanted to? This disease has almost cost my life several times. From O.D's to my kidneys shutting down. All my hair even fell out and nothing is worse on a girl's self esteem than a bald head. I have to wear a wig now and I used to have such beautiful hair. Please if you have a problem, get help. I may be too far gone now but it's not too late for others. Talk to someone, anyone. Please.
Wilting_Flower - 16-Aug-15 @ 11:12 PM
@Millie - I'm afraid we can't give medical advice, therefore you may like to speak with someone directly via the link here. I hope this helps.
EatingDisorderExpert - 30-Jul-15 @ 2:07 PM
Hi there I've had disordered eating (mainly anorexic) for the best part of 5 years, I'm now 19. There have been minor improvements as I've tried to start the "rehabilitation" process, but there are a lot of things that aren't right. There were times in recent history where I couldn't go to the toilet for a week at a time I was so blocked up. For the most part these days I manage to go, although it either takes ages or or never completes. I don't want to have to take laxatives as I used to abuse them. I've had awful bloating pretty much all the time even if I have had a bowel movement. It is uncomfortable and can be painful. As for the aesthetic view it can stop me from leaving the house I get so embarrassed. All I can think of is probiotics but I want a permanent fix so I don't have to run with this constant battle. I have been to my GP a lot and even to see a dietitian. Nothing has helped.
Millie - 28-Jul-15 @ 4:41 PM
My best friend is anorexic...She has 2 gaps on the sides of her stomach...They were so deep , shes eating and they're getting better ,the gaps are not as deep as before but shes been eating more and her gaps are still there...Is she going to stay like this? If not how can her gaps go away?
johnjohn - 21-Jul-15 @ 3:00 AM
@siren- you should visit your doctor asap. In the meantime, so you can to speak with someone directly, you can also contact the Eating Disorder helpline via the link here.
EatingDisorderExpert - 23-Jun-15 @ 2:35 PM
I haven't eaten in 4 days and collapsed 6 times in the process of these days. however for 2 days straight now I have been getting horrendous stomach pains ,like period pains , but not. it feels like I'm loosing weight extremely rapidly , and I have noticed a difference in my bodys shape. But the stomach aches make me feel so unwell ,I've tried eating but it doesn't help, I feel worse when I do. what should I do?
siren - 21-Jun-15 @ 5:45 AM
Pls my problem is that I eat too much and in less than one hour I will be hungry again. Pls help me. Cos is so annoying.
Beckham - 1-May-15 @ 10:10 PM
@Andi - have you had help for this? As specified in the article, 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. Any consistent stomach problem should be investigated by a medical professional as soon as possible. So, please visit your GP as soon as you can.
EatingDisorderExpert - 16-Apr-15 @ 10:06 AM
I definitely have anorexia and I do suffer greatly from stomach aches from not eating properly or not eating at all. It's awful and it feels just as bad as period cramps.
Andi - 16-Apr-15 @ 3:26 AM
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