Health as a Recovery Tool

Eating disorders take a toll on a person’s body and overall health. The longer an individual engages in eating disorder behavior, the worse the impact will be. Health and medical consequences vary depending on the disorders. Consider the following:

Anorexia — the short-term consequences are definite and often visible: extreme weight loss, dry skin and hair loss, unusual hair growth  on torso, anemia, loss of menstrual cycle, bluish fingertips, loss of energy and impaired  brain function. Notice how often the word “loss” appears. Long-term consequences include brain shrinkage, cardiac abnormalities, osteoporosis, and infertility. The direst consequence is loss of life.

Bulimia–Not unlike anorexia, the early health consequences of this disorder can be seen. Swollen glands in the neck burst blood vessels in the eyes, dehydration and bruised or scraped fingers are among the most noticeable. Long-term consequences include injury to the stomach and esophagus, damage to kidneys and heart, damage to the teeth. If laxatives are abused, irreparable harm can be done to the intestines.

Binge-eating –The short-term consequence of this disorder is weight gain; the long-term is obesity, which offers a whole host of medical complications of its own.

Remember … Eating disorders do not have to be permanent. By the same token, many of the health and medical complications can resolve once health is restored. Recovery from anorexia, bulimia, and disordered eating is possible.  Find an accredited clinic for eating disorder treatment.

Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 17, 2011

Page last updated: October 17, 2012
Published on, Online Help for An Eating Disorder