Bulimia Nervosa: Long Term Effects on Physical Health

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Bulimia nervosa is a serious psychiatric illness that impacts a person in many different ways.  The difficult thing about eating disorders is that these diseases are secretive by nature, where the individual often suffers in silence and typically keeps isolated. Because of the many misconceptions and stigmas that surround eating disorders like bulimia, it can be difficult for a person to understand the reality of what they might be struggling with.

Physical Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

Abnormal eating behaviors associated with bulimia include reoccurring binging and purging episodes, which might involve self-induced vomiting, excessive laxative and/or diuretic use, compulsive exercise and more. These repeated behaviors wreck havoc on the body and can create many physical complications, which might include electrolyte abnormalities, cardiovascular complications, gastrointestinal issues, tooth decay, bone loss and others.

Purging behaviors in any way, shape, or form can cause dehydration in the body, which can lead to riskier medical complications, such as irregular heartbeats resulting from electrolyte imbalances. A person struggling with bulimia can easily fall into a denial mindset, thinking that binging and purging “just one more time” will not be harmful. Even though bulimia results in potentially fatal consequences, a person struggling with this disease cannot easily stop the reoccurring episodes from happening.

The Role of Professional Help and Treatment

Woman considering risksMany individuals who struggle with bulimia may do so for years before admitting the need for help. In some cases, a health scare resulting from bulimia may lead a person to get the help they need. Prolonged time without any professional interventions will only increase risk of physical damage resulting from bulimia.

In many instances, a person who seeks out professional care and treatment can see a reversal of the physical health effects that may have resulted from the bulimia behaviors. While there is no guarantee that the body will completely heal from bulimia once medical treatment is sought, professional interventions will certainly help improve overall quality of life and can help prevent more fatal consequences from resulting.

If you have been struggling with bulimia, it is important for you to seek out the help that is needed for not only physical recovery, but restoration of all aspects of your health and life.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are some of the aspects of bulimia that can make it difficult for a person to seek out the help they need?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 17, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com