Purging, Excessive Dieting and Excessive Exercising are Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Commonly referred to as Bulimia.  Bulimia is a serious, possibly life-threatening eating disorder. Bulimia is recognized by the cyclical behavior of binge eating and followed by self-induced vomiting, to rid the body of the nutrients from binge eating.  Purging, excessive dieting and excessive exercising are symptoms of Bulimia.

Bulimia is Fairly Common and Dangerous

Researchers believe that over two million young women and girls have bulimia in the United States. Since most cases go unreported until damage has already occurred, the number of cases is hard to estimate.  Bingeing then purging can cause severe physical damage and even death. You may be less concerned since the risk of death is not recorded as high as anorexia.  The most dangerous risks are not very common such as stomach rupture from binge eating, and heart failure from loss of potassium from purging.  A common problem from bulimia is damaging tooth enamel from vomiting.  Stomach acid can also inflame the esophagus and salivary glands.

Not Just Girls

Even though most bulimics are girls in their teens or early 20s.  Boys also account for 5-10% of reported cases. Since purging for bulimics is normally done secretly it may be difficult to uncover for parents and loved ones.  Many bulimics feel guilt or shame from their condition, though they may appear healthy and successful, while inside they have feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem.

How to Help Someone with Bulimia

You need to realize that your loved one has a disorder, but they are not the disorder.  If you have concerns that your child or friend is bulimic and they are hiding from you, let them know you are concerned and that you care about them.  Here is a short video that can give you ideas on how to approach the subject.

How to Help Someone w/ Bulimia Nervosa | Eating Disorders

Cause Unknown

You may be surprised that bulimia is likely caused by a combination of genetics and environment. It is common for bulimia to run in families, leading researcher to think it is genetic.  No one has determined any genetic markers that lead to this disorder.  You may notice that obsessive compulsory disorder and depression may also be present with bulimia. Girls who participate in modeling, dancing, or gymnastics appear to be more susceptible to bulimia. Your family influence plays a major role in the likelihood of your child developing bulimia. Many bulimics have mothers who are extremely concerned about their weight.  Also, Many bulimics have fathers who criticize their weight.

Preventions vs Interventions

Prevention is always better than interventions when it comes to eating disorders.  If you are a parent, make sure you continually tell your children how much you love them, and how beautiful they are.  I have three daughters and I tried to tell them each at least once a day or more, that “I Love You”.  While I also try to embrace them each in a hug that lasts for 20 seconds or more.  Additionally, I make an effort to tell my daughters how beautiful they are as often as I can while appropriate, I also try not to tie my love for them to them looking beautiful.  I believe and you can infer from the research that, children who are loved and feel beautiful at home are not very likely to develop an eating disorder.

The Right Time to Talk

Even if you do all you can to prevent eating disorders from disrupting your child’s life you can’t control everything.  Once your child has developed an eating disorder, you must approach the subject before it is too late.  Not broaching the subject will make it fester and can tear down relationships.  Approach the conversation with love and concern and you will achieve the best results. This girl below has gone through a destructive phase and appears to have come out the other side better for it, as a parent we want to protect our children from these unnecessary life phases.

Treatment and the Challenges

Like most eating disorders bulimia is challenging to treat.  You may find the most challenging part of treatment is that most buimics don’t want to be treated.  Once someone can openly talk about their disorder, they are much more likely to seek treatment.  After treatment has begun you need to continue to be supportive.

Here is Some Good Insights Into Treating Bulimia and Other Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders: Why is it so Hard to Treat Them? | Ilona Kajokiene | TEDxVilnius

Courage and Hope

You should be encouraged that someone who is strong enough to self-induce vomiting frequently is strong enough to overcome. Certainly, it takes a lot of determination to self-induce vomiting and it is physically taxing. Consequently, if they put the same determination into overcoming, there will be hope.

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