A look at the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia

With bulimia, frequent vomiting and lack of nutrients can cause: Kids with eating disorders show serious problems with their eating and often have physical signs. Someone with anorexia might: Kids with eating disorders often react defensively and angrily when confronted for the first time.

A look at the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia

Each year millions of people in the United States develop serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders. The vast majority -- more than 90 percent -- of those afflicted with eating disorders are adolescent and young adult women.

One reason that women in this age group are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders is their tendency to go on strict diets to achieve an "ideal" figure. Researchers have found that such stringent dieting can play a key role in triggering eating disorders. Another 2 to 3 percent of young women develop bulimia nervosa, a destructive pattern of excessive overeating followed by vomiting or other "purging" behaviors to control their weight.

These eating disorders also occur in men and older women, but much less frequently. The consequences of eating disorders can be severe, with 1 in 10 cases leading to death from starvation, cardiac arrest, or suicide.

Fortunately, increasing awareness of the dangers of eating disorders--sparked by medical studies and extensive media coverage of the illness--has led many people to seek help. Nevertheless, some people with eating disorders refuse to admit that they have a problem and do not get treatment.

Family members and friends can help them recognize the problem and encourage the person to seek treatment.

A look at the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia

Anorexia Nervosa People who intentionally starve themselves suffer from an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. The disorder, which usually begins in young people around the time of puberty, involves extreme weight loss--at least 15 percent below the individual's normal body weight.

Many people with the disorder look emaciated but are convinced they are overweight. Sometimes they must be hospitalized to prevent starvation.

One of the most frightening aspects of the disorder is that people with anorexia continue to think they are overweight even when they are bone-thin. For reasons not yet understood, they become terrified of gaining any weight. Food and weight become obsessions.

For some, the compulsiveness shows up in strange eating rituals or the refusal to eat in front of others. It is not uncommon for people with anorexia to collect recipes and prepare gourmet feasts for family and friends, but not partake in the meals themselves.

They may adhere to strict exercise routines to keep off weight. Loss of monthly menstrual periods is typical in women with the disorder.

Men with anorexia often become impotent. Bulimia Nervosa People with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively.

Some use a combination of all these forms of purging. Because many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often successfully hide their problem from others for years.

Family, friends, and physicians may have difficulty detecting bulimia in someone they know. Many individuals with the disorder remain at normal body weight or above because of their frequent binges and purges, which can range from once or twice a week to several times a day.

Dieting heavily between episodes of bingeing and purging is also common. Eventually, half of those with anorexia will develop bulimia. As with anorexia, bulimia typically begins during adolescence.

The condition occurs most often in women but is also found in men. Many individuals with bulimia, ashamed of their strange habits, do not seek help until they reach their thirties or forties. By this time, their eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to change.

Binge Eating Disorder An illness that resembles bulimia nervosa is binge eating disorder.

A look at the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia

Like bulimia, the disorder is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled eating or bingeing. However, binge eating disorder differs from bulimia because its sufferers do not purge their bodies of excess food. Individuals with binge eating disorder feel that they lose control of themselves when eating.

They eat large quantities of food and do not stop until they are uncomfortably full.Here’s a more detailed look at the symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Signs of Anorexia Nervosa People with anorexia nervosa have an extreme fear of gaining weight. Persons with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight.

They may diet or exercise too much, or use other methods to lose weight. See also: Bulimia. Causes. The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are not known. Many factors probably are involved. Genes and hormones may play a role.

Eating disorders—anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorders—are serious but treatable mental illnesses that feature disturbances in both eating behavior and weight regulation.

They are associated with significant adverse psychological, physical, and social consequences. Bulimia is a psychological condition that is actually related to anorexia nervosa, in which the person binge eats or eats an excessive amount of food in a short time, and subsequently vomits the ingested food forcibly, in order to compensate for eating it and to prevent weight gain.

Patients with eating disorders can also present to the emergency department for a variety of conditions such as dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, seizures (which can be related to electrolyte disturbance as a result of their eating disorder), and heart palpitations or other cardiac issues.

Compelling Anorexia, Bulimia & Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Information. Visit the Inaugural Online Conference Page to view the webinars! Eating Disorder Articles. Anorexia kills people. In fact, this disease enjoys the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

In the case of a celebrity death, the media provides coverage.

Understanding Eating Disorders, such as Anorexia and Bulimia