Bulimia Side Effects

Understanding the Side Effects of Bulimia

The side effects of bulimia can be devastating if the condition is left untreated. Bulimia nervosa, usually referred to as simply ‘bulimia’, is an eating disorder that comes in many forms. The basic idea behind this disorder is binge eating followed by forced purging. Food may be expelled from the body a number of ways, such as vomiting, the use of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. This condition usually develops as a result of a psychological need to become thin, often due to peer pressure, family mind-set towards weight or body type, or the media’s influence promoting excessive thinness. Some people develop bulimia because they have a genetic predisposition towards addiction, in which case bulimia nervosa could in fact be an addiction. Although it can take a long time to recover from true bulimia, understanding the side effects of bulimia can ease one down the path of rehabilitation.

Stomach Upset, Esophageal Erosion, and Uncontrolled Purging

All of these issues sound pretty bad—and they are. It only takes a few episodes of forced vomiting before the stomach becomes trained to do so after meals. Going long periods without food can cause the stomach to literally shrink in size. After the fasting period becomes abruptly halted with the sudden binge of food, the stomach becomes so full that it literally cannot contain it all. This often results in severe stomach upset, heartburn/indigestion, and vomiting food particles and stomach acid. Vomiting often results in a bit of stomach acid traveling up the esophagus. Although the odd occurrence of vomiting does not have any lasting effects, the frequent recurrence of stomach acid passing up the esophagus can cause the lining of this tube to wear down. Unlike the stomach, which has a thick protective tissue, the lining in the esophagus is delicate and easily irritated. As it wears down the sufferer may begin to regurgitate blood.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Dehydration is a serious condition that can develop as a result of frequent vomiting, forcing bowel movements using laxatives, and the excessive use of diuretics. When food and drinks are forced from the body, they are accompanied by some of the body’s essential nutrients. These nutrients include water, sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphate. These electrolytes are essential to several functions of the body, such as muscle movement, filtering the blood of toxins, and keeping the body’s tissues healthy and operable. When dehydration and electrolyte deficiency occurs, one’s skin can take on a dry, pale pallor. Their nails and hair also become brittle and loose luster. Muscle cramps or spasms, dizziness, low blood pressure, excessive thirst, hallucinations, and severe headaches are a few of the symptoms that can occur as a result of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Dental Issues

Oral issues are sure to crop up as one of the most noticeable side effects of bulimia. As mentioned earlier, excessive vomiting causes acid from the stomach to travel up the esophagus. When this is expelled through the mouth, the bile rushes past the teeth and over time leads to erosion of the tooth itself. It begins by eating away at the teeth’s enamel until discoloration and weakness occur. If left untreated, the teeth can blacken and break away, leading to further dental issues such as ulcers, abscesses, and infections.

There are many other side effects of bulimia and they vary from person to person. Anyone who suspects that they may be suffering from bulimia should speak to their doctor for an evaluation.