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Long-Term Side Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by binge eating and then inappropriate manners of preventing weight gain such as purging (induced vomiting) or excessive exercise. Thousands of Americans suffer from eating disorders each year. There is an increased prevalence of eating disorders in western cultures.

People who experience bulimia feel a need for perfection and also have a distorted body image and view of reality. They frequently obsess over exercise and have rigid diet regimes from which they will binge at least twice a week and then subsequently purge with a combination of self-induced vomiting, laxatives or excessive exercising.

People who suffer from bulimia often go unrecognized because they hold near normal weight and dont become intensely thin. However, the effect of the induced vomiting and laxatives causes a malnourished state that has many long term effects of bulimia.

Some of the side effects of bulimia nervosa are fatigue, muscle weakness, fainting, dizziness and missed periods for women. These side effects are caused from the malnourished state of the persons body and lack of vitamins and minerals, most notably iron which causes anemia.

Because the blood of the sufferer doesnt have enough iron there are also pulmonary and long term cardiovascular issues as well.

Another of the side effects of bulimia nervosa is a depressed immune system. The bodys immune system is bolstered by good nutrition high in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins B and zinc. When the sufferer continues to purge the nutrition they take in they also lose the vitamins and minerals that are so important to a strong immune system. This loss sets them up to be more susceptible to frequent illnesses such as viral colds and flu and to be in general poor health.

Side effects of bulimia nervosa are also related to the physical acts that people do to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives. When a person vomits the large amounts of food they just consumed they bring up gastric acid as well. This acid eats away at the tooth enamel and destroys the teeth of the sufferer. They also risk esophageal tears from persistent vomiting.

The use of laxatives leads to dehydration, heart arrhythmias, muscle weakness and gastrointestinal distress.

Some of the more long term effects of bulimia can have life long consequences and even be life threatening. The condition of anorexia has been made most famous through television and the media attention to models and television actresses who suffer from this condition. But there are life threatening issues that happen with some of the more long term effects of bulimia.

Women are more likely to lose their menstrual periods and become infertile. Some research has shown that with recovery they will regain fertility but other research shows that even after a complete recovery people continue to suffer from some of the side effects of bulimia nervosa for a life time. Years of abusing the body through malnutrition and purging habits takes its toll on the body.

Some of these long term effects of bulimia nervosa include but are not limited to:

  • Hormonal changes to the body that affect the menstrual periods of women
  • Unbalanced thyroid and growth hormone that may result in a retarded growth of a teen
  • Heart disease which includes lethal heart arrhythmias
  • High cholesterol
  • Low blood pressure which affects the health of other organs such as kidneys resulting in kidney failure
  • Starvation of the muscles including the heart muscle
  • Restricted blood flow through the body
  • Electrolyte imbalances such as potassium that results in irregular heart rate, fatigue, weakness
  • Loss of bone causing osteoporosis
  • Organ failure

Both the physical side effects and long term effects of bulimia nervosa are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a disease process that shouldn’t be ignored just because the sufferer appears to be of normal weight. This is a deceiving predicament since although the person may be carrying a near normal weight they also have a body starving from lack of nutrition.


Mom, Please Help! 

Mom Please Help MeFrom Karen Phillips:

When my daughter nearly died in hospital from Anorexia-Bulimia I was absolutely determined to find a cure for this dreadful disease. Now a few years later she is completely healthy – physically and emotionally, and I am very proud of her and myself for what we’ve achieved.

Even a doctor was surprised by the effectiveness of the treatment I discovered and now she recommends this treatment to her anorexia- bulimia sufferers. I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. Please learn more about ‘Mom Help Me Please!’ today and start you or your child on the road to recovery from this terrible disease. ~ Karen Phillips


And there are also emotional and psychological side effects of bulimia that result from lifestyle of binging and purging. Many feel social isolated from leading an embarrassing secret life of pigging out and then purging with vomiting or laxatives. They are fearful of being found out, anxious, lonely, suffer from low-self-esteem and feelings of guilt, self-disgust and hopelessness over their situation over which they find no escape.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has a problem with bulimia you should seek the advice and counsel of a physician or counselor trained in dealing with eating disorders. There is help for this disorder and there is recovery when addressed with the help of a professional trained in the different methods of helping bulimics with their individual problems.

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2 Responses to Long-Term Side Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

  1. alejandra September 15, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Thank you for a wonderful article that sheds light on a very misunderstood disease.

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