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What are the Long Term Effects of Eating Disorders?

written by: moniquesam • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/31/2010

Kidney failure, heart disease and infertility are all long term effects of having an eating disorder. It is very important that you know the negative effects of eating disorders to help you prepare and educate yourself or someone you know who may be at risk of developing these conditions.

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    Being Aware of Eating Disorder Long Term Effects

    When we see or know someone with an eating disorder we may not always think about the long term effects that the disorder is causing internally. We may notice the physical appearance such as paleness, being underweight or scarring on hands caused by purging. But many people do not really know or think about eating disorder long term effects and how they affect the organs.

    It does not matter if it is bulimia, anorexia, pica or binge eating, the eating disorder long term effects can be devastating.

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    Long Term Effects of Eating Disorders

    Individuals with these disorders may experience heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, heart attack or heart failure. In fact most of these heart problems can arise because of the lack of calcium,sodium or other minerals. This condition is called electrolyte imbalance and it is where the body does not have enough fluid or minerals.

    Long term kidney problems can also develop as result of having an eating disorder. Kidneys regulate your fluids and removes toxins from the body. But when you are dehydrated and lack the proper nutrients your kidney can be damaged irretrievably which can result in kidney failure.

    When eating disorder patterns continue for extended periods of time they can have deleterious effects on many of your other organs as well.

    The long term effects of someone suffering from Pica tend to be related to the substances consumed. For example lead paints can lead to brain damage and other toxins inside objects can cause poisoning and even death. This is because people with this disorder ingest non food items such as paint chips and computer components.

    Problems with the reproductive system are also an issue. Women may go months at a time without seeing their monthly period. On the other hand if the women is pregnant and suffering from an eating disorder she is at risk of losing her baby because she is extremely malnourished. However In the event that she is able to carry her baby to term, the child may suffer a lifetime of illness. Both men and women may have problems conceiving children years after they have overcome their disorder.

    Permanent damage to the esophagus can occur if an individual is purging. This is because the stomach acid can start to erode the lining of the esophagus. Major dental problems may also occur such as gum disease or tooth decay.Osteoporosis, a condition mostly seen in the elderly is seen in people suffering from eating disorders.This is because the body lacks essential vitamins such as vitamin D.

    Being informed and educated is the first step people can take to realize how devastating eating disorder long term effects can be.