Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an illness in which a person binges on food or has frequent episodes of overeating and feels a loss of control. In result the person uses different methods, such as vomiting or laxatives to prevent weight gain. Many people with bulimia also have anorexia nervosa. A bulimic person can consume as much as 3,400 calories in about an hour, and as much as 20,000 calories in eight hours. People with bulimia know they have a problem and are afraid of their lack of ability to stop eating. Then purging, self-induced vomiting, and abuse of laxatives follows the binging.

Binging and purging are often performed in secret, along with feelings of shame alternating with relief. Symptoms of bulimia are feeling that one cannot stop eating, discretely eating a large amount of food in a short period of time, or trying many different methods in order to prevent weight gain. Other symptoms include: sore throat, sensitive and decaying teeth due to exposure to stomach acids, acid reflux disorder, intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse, kidney problems because of diuretic abuse, and severe dehydration from purging of fluids.

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Binges lead to self-disgust, which causes the purging. And the purging often brings a sense of relief. Many symptoms of bulimia can go undetected. Some that can be detected by others are: Compulsive exercise; suddenly eating large amounts of food or buying large amounts of food that disappear rather quickly; regularly going to the bathroom right after meals; throwing away packages of laxative, diet pills, emetics, or diuretics. Who is Afflicted? The majority of bulimics are female, young adults, and from a high social group.

Most of all the western industrial countries have reported incidence of bulimia. An estimated 1. 1 to 4. 2 percent of females in the United States are reported to have bulimia. Causes The cause of bulimia is not yet known. It is believed that most young adults who develop bulimia are more likely to come from families with a history of eating disorders, physical illness, and other mental health problems, such as mood disorders or substance abuse. Other mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, or mood disorders, are commonly found in persons with bulimia.

Treatment Specific treatment for bulimia will be determined by your physician based on: your age, overall health, and medical history; extent of the symptoms; your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies; expectations for the course of the condition; your opinion or preference. Bulimia is usually treated with a combination of individual therapy, family therapy, behavior modification, and nutritional rehabilitation. The frequent occurrence of medical complications during the course of rehabilitative treatment requires both your physician and a nutritionist to be active members of the management team.

Options The treatment approach depends on how severe the bulimia is, and the person’s response to treatments. Support groups may be helpful for patients with mild conditions who do not have any health problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and nutritional therapy are the first treatments for bulimia that does not respond to support groups. Antidepressants known as selective Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often used for bulimia. A combination of CBT and SSRIs is very effective if CBT does not work alone.

Family and friends play vital role in any treatment process. Bulimia is a long term disease. Family, friends, and physicians may have difficulty detecting bulimia in someone they know because they binge and purge in secret. Often, they are able to maintain normal or above normal body weight, but hide their problem from others for years. Many people with bulimia do not seek help until they reach the ages 30 or 50, when their eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to change.

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