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Why Bulimia is Bad News for your Long Term Health

written by: Melinda F. • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/19/2011

Bulimia nervosa is a serious illness that carries a number of possible long term effects. Some of these include an imbalance of electrolytes and being unable to determine whether you are hungry or full. Let's take a closer look at what are the long term effects of bulimia nervosa.

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    Bulimia nervosa is one of the two most common eating disorders. While anorexia is generally described as consuming as few calories as possible and basically starving one’s self, bulimia nervosa can be described as a dangerous binge-purge cycle that is ongoing over a long period of time.

    Those suffering from bulimia will go through binge and purge cycles a few times a week or even up to several different times in one day. The bingeing aspect involves eating anywhere from 1,000 to over 20,000 calories in one sitting and then purging or attempting to get rid of the food that has been consumed. This is commonly done by vomiting, using laxatives, exercising excessively or a combination of any of those. Bulimics will usually do their bingeing and purging in private without others being able to see them. They are really good at trying to hide what they do and sometimes they’re able to get away with it for quite some time.

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    Possible Long Term Effects

    Bulimia sufferers who vomit after an episode of bingeing will wear away the enamel on their teeth over a period of time which will leave them more vulnerable to infection and diseases. Stomach acid from vomiting will also travel up the esophagus which could cause severe health problems. The gastric content from the acids can create sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods. Repeated self-induced vomiting can also cause stomach ulcers, esophagus restriction and even ruptures.

    Bulimics who use laxatives as a way to purge food they’ve eating can interfere with their electrolytes and actually create an electrolyte imbalance. A major imbalance of electrolytes can trigger kidney or heart failure. When a person becomes dependent on laxatives and uses them for a long period of time it can create problems for the colon. The body may lose normal colonic function that could require surgery to repair.

    People who are bulimic also feel an extreme pressure to keep their weight in check and since bulimia doesn’t really help an individual lose any weight it can just add to the stress of trying to be slimmer. This will often result in depression that could even lead to suicide which is the number one cause of death among those with eating disorders.

    Some other possible long term effects of bulimia include osteoporosis, hair loss, constipation, yellowing of the skin, memory loss, decreased heart rate, low blood pressure, bloating, acid reflux and dry skin. The disorder can also render an individual unable to determine if they are feeling hungry or full.

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    How to Prevent the Damage

    If you have never asked yourself, "What are the long term affects of bulimia nervosa?" you should have a pretty good idea now. If you or somebody you know is dealing with an eating disorder it’s important to seek treatment right away. It will take time and patience but eating disorders can be treated. The longer an eating disorder is present the worse the long term effects of bulimia nervosa will be. Some people struggle with eating disorders for decades and it ends up killing them because their bodies just end up shutting down.

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    References

    Epigee.org: Bulimia: Information on Bulimia Nervosa http://www.epigee.org/mental_health/bulimia.html

    MedicineNet.com: Bulimia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment - What Medical Complications and Long-Term Effects Can Bulimia Have? http://www.medicinenet.com/bulimia/page4.htm#4whatmedical

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