Bulimia signs or more accurately bulimia nervosa signs, are quite similar to anorexia symptoms. Both are debilitating eating disorders that affect millions of people each and every day.
-There are many differences between bulimia and anorexia.
While symptoms of anorexia nervosa are more likely to occur in teenagers, the signs of bulimia are more prevalent in adults in their 20's.
-Bulimia nervosa signs are also seen in more than twice as many people than anorexia symptoms.
It's also much more common in women than it is in men.
Definition of Bulimia
Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder that is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, followed by purging. A person with bulimia is obsessed with their weight, going to very drastic often-dramatic lengths to avoid any weight gain.
-Bulimics will go on eating binges, at times consuming 3,000 to 5,000 calories or more in one sitting. When the binge is over, the bulimic feels guilty, ashamed and afraid of the weight gain. At this point they frantically attempt to undo the damage they perceive their binge has caused.
They may take diet pills, laxatives or diuretics, engage in extensive and strenuous exercise, and more often than not, they make themselves vomit (manual purging) as well, in an effort to avoid any weight gain.
-Continuing this lifestyle demands this binge/purge cycle to occur 4 to 5 times every day for most people with bulimia, to more than 3 times that for long-time bulimics.
This bingeing and purging is not only very expensive, but takes a lot of time and planning on their part. They also must be careful to avoid friends and family during these cycles, and this only worsens as the disorder progresses.
-Eventually there is little time for anything else.
Bulimia is a complex eating disorder that involves a wide range of symptoms. Bulimia signs include odd eating patterns such as the bulimics inability to maintain control over their eating, and eating in secret.
-Other signs of bulimia are the disappearance of food and many empty food containers and wrappers in the trash. The bulimic will often eat large amounts of food; yet show no real change in their weight due to their various forms of purging.
They also tend to be extreme in their eating habits, either overeating or going in the complete opposite direction by fasting.
Normal meals are a very rare occasion for bulimics.
Signs of Bulimia that indicate the person may be purging, include their frequent use of diuretics, laxatives and even enemas after they've eaten.
-Bulimics often disappear after a meal, heading straight for the bathroom, only to return smelling of mints or mouthwash. (or reeking of vomit)
Many bulimics will manually purge in this manner, using laxatives for family gatherings and meals with friends, where their purging could be discovered. After eating, they may work out very strenuously, engaging in high intensity cardio like running, biking or aerobics.
-Other bulimia signs that attest to the brutality of the disorder include scars or calluses on the person's hands or knuckles. This is from the person placing their fingers down their throat to induce vomiting. This repeated vomiting could also result in puffy or "chipmunk" cheeks.
The bulimics weight may fluctuate frequently by ten pounds or even more because of these alternating cycles of bingeing and purging.
Dangers in Bulimia
A very dangerous and potentially life threatening condition, the bulimia signs can cause a variety of side effects on the bulimics body. They may actually experience a gain in weight, which is in direct contrast to their intended goal.
-The dangers in bulimia can also include pain and bloating of the abdominal area. Hands and feet often swell and their throat may be sore as well from the excessive purging.
Bulimics may also have a scratchy or hoarse voice, and broken blood vessels in and around their eyes. A person with bulimia may become dizzy and very weak as well, from the lack of fluids and nutrients lost in purging.
-Other bulimia signs include discolored teeth and tooth decay, sores in the mouth, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, ruptured esophagus or stomach. Again, this is a direct result of the excessive purging.
Frequent constipation can often result from the chronic laxative use, as well as poor digestion as the body no longer functions in the same way.
-Other dangers in bulimia and anorexia, are stroke and heart attacks, the leading cause of death in people with eating disorders.
Poor body image, low self esteem and depression are all causes of bulimia, although it is not always clear in the case of depression, which came first.
-Frequent or intense dieting can put a person at risk of developing bulimia.
Professions where public appearances are common are at a much higher risk of bulimia as well.(the need to "look good")
-Other causes of bulimia include major life changes and certain hereditary and biological factors. If a relative has bulimia nervosa, it is much more likely another family member will also acquire it.
All forms of abuse, whether it be emotional, sexual or physical have long been strongly suspected causes of bulimia and other eating disorders as well. -It is believed this abuse leads to the eating disorder in much the same way it can lead some individuals to substance or alcohol abuse.
Treatment for Bulimia
There is no magic pill or treatment for bulimia. Counseling in the form of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses a two-prong approach in helping bulimics recover.
-Therapists first work to help the patient break the binge and purge cycle, then they tackle changing the patient's thoughts and patterns that are unhealthy or harmful.
Group therapy is often used, and can be a very successful treatment for bulimia and other eating disorders. Knowing you're not alone can go a long way in recovering from bulimia.
-Antidepressant medications have also been shown to be effective in cases where depression is one of the suspected causes of bulimia.
Many of the treatments used for depression often work equally well in the treatment for bulimia signs. (see depression or eating disorder?)
The Differences Between Bulimia and Anorexia
-There are distinct differences between bulimia and anorexia.
The anorexic will stop or avoid eating altogether, exercising frequently and possibly purging on occasion.
-They will compulsively weigh their food and count every single calorie.
Anorexics in most all cases, are very thin. Those exhibiting anorexia symptoms may wear baggy clothes in an effort to hide a gaunt appearance.
-Their hair may begin to thin and their skin may become dry.
Many people with anorexia symptoms will eventually get treatment, and of those that do, most are helped and even cured.
One of the biggest differences between bulimia and anorexia is that bulimics often do not stop or avoid eating, they eat with friends only on rare occasions, because of the need to hide the eventual purging.
-One of the Bulimia signs is this lack of control in their eating habits, binging to numb their feelings, much like an alcoholic. At the beginning this large consumption of food brings a certain euphoria, temporarily masking the root problem.
This unnatural high feeling created by the binging-purging cycle, in turn becomes addictive and the dangerous cycle continues.
-Bulimics are more likely to be at or around normal weight, or even slightly overweight. This makes it much harder to recognize the bulimia signs, unless caught in the act of purging.
Long time bulimics also have much more serious tooth decay and gum problems, along with a higher incidence of stomach and esophageal complaints, all due to the excessive purging of stomach acids.
-A small percentage (about 7%) of bulimics are classified as non-purging, exercising much more, and fasting rather than purging.
But, of all the differences between bulimia and anorexia, the bulimia sign that is perhaps the most dangerous, and by far the most disturbing:
...It's the fact that most bulimics are not likely to ever seek treatment!
-That's why if you suspect a friend or loved one has Bulimia signs, don't hesitate.
Help them to get the help they really need!
The Good News:
-Like Anorexia, Bulimia is a very treatable disorder once it is discovered.
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