Several physical complications are associated with bulimia nervosa. Many of these problems are caused by behavior aimed at controlling body weight in an unhealthy manner, and most of these problems resolve once eating habits, and weight has returned to normal.
Bulimia Nervosa Complications
Bulimia is characterized by enormous food consumption, followed by self-induced vomiting. This is often accompanied by laxative abuse. These behaviors can leave a woman or girl with severe health issues that include:
Injury to the Esophagus
Repeated vomiting causes acid and bile from the stomach to irritate and inflame the lining of the esophagus resulting in a condition known as esophagitis. This is sometimes severe enough to cause scarring and narrowing. Vomiting can also cause tears in the lining of the esophagus. These tears may bleed or cause the esophagus to rupture. This life-threatening condition requires immediate surgery.
Injury to the Stomach
Binge eating and frequent vomiting commonly cause gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining.
Injury to the Intestines
Laxative abuse is harmful in several ways: it upsets the body’s mineral balance; it leads to dehydration; it damages the lining of the digestive tract, and it burns out the colon. This damage to the muscle and nerves often causes severe constipation, and in some cases, the colon must be removed.
Self-induced vomiting often leads to aspiration of food particles, gastric acid, and bacteria from the stomach into the lungs. This can result in pneumonia.
Severe Kidney and Heart Complications
Fasting, vomiting, and other forms of purging result in loss of fluid and crucial minerals from the body. Chronic dehydration and low potassium levels can lead to kidney stones and even kidney failure. Frequent vomiting leads to high alkali levels in the blood and body tissues. This may cause weakness, constipation, and fatigue. Severe alkalosis and potassium deficiency can lead to an uneven heart rate or sudden death.
Injury to the Skin and Teeth
Most over-the-counter laxatives, when used excessively, can cause sores and brown or gray spots on the skin. Chronic vomiting increases the acidity of the mouth and results in erosion of the teeth’s enamel and dentin.
Many of these medical problems can improve once a person recovers from bulimia. For those that don’t resolve, the sooner a person seeks treatment, the less severe the complications will be.
Bulimia Treatment that Works
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. It’s happening every day at The Meadows Ranch. For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to an Intake Coordinator at 866-390-5100 or complete the form below and we will contact you with the information you need.