Eating disorders affect many people at different points in their lives. Anorexia and bulimia are the two best-known types of eating disorders; however, the effects of bulimia are often misunderstood, and are actually very severe when it comes to your physical health.
Our team at Carolina Wellness Psychiatry are experts in many types of mental health problems, including eating disorders. Dr. Elizabeth Bullard, Dr. Brian Moore, and Dr. Allison Foroobar are our three experienced psychiatrists, who can help you when bulimia has overtaken your body and mind.
Facts about bulimia
Bulimia is an eating disorder marked by episodes of binging on a lot of food, and then forcing yourself to vomit up that food. If you have bulimia, you may also exercise excessively, or take diuretics and laxatives to make up for the food you binged on earlier.
Bulimia is a mental health disorder, which you may not know. It has to do with a distorted body image, making you feel as though you’re fat, even when you’re underweight. It can be very hard to break the cycle of bulimia, even when your health is at risk.
Most of the time, bulimia needs to be treated not only by our psychiatry team, but through other avenues as well. Medications, counseling, and nutritional therapy are all ways our team helps you overcome your eating disorder.
In severe cases, you may need to be hospitalized for a while if you’ve had complications to your health. This is another way you can recieve treatment to not only help the mental aspect of bulimia, but also the physical effects.
What are the signs?
Whether it’s someone you know or yourself, it’s important to understand the signs of bulimia. This helps you seek help early, which can decrease your risks of serious and long-lasting health problems. Some of the common signs of someone who has bulimia include:
- Food hoarding
- Disappearing after eating
- Excessive exercise
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety and sadness
- Distorted body image
- Callused knuckles from vomiting
- Tooth erosion from excessive vomiting
Problems with your digestive tract is also a sign of an eating disorder. This may include stomach cramping, constipation, or acid reflux on a regular basis.
How it affects your body
You may not realize at first how bulimia is affecting your body. But after a while, the constant binging and purging takes a toll on your physical health as well as your mental health.
While extreme weight loss is one of the biggest physical signs of bulimia, there are a few lesser-known physical effects you may not know about, such as the following:
Your eyes may be red on a regular basis, due to the forceful vomiting that’s a part of being bulimic. Tiny blood vessels in your eyes may burst due to the constant vomiting, giving them a red hue.
When you’re bulimic, the excessive vomiting can lead to swollen salivary glands in your mouth. This sometimes gives the appearance of swollen cheeks.
Scars on your hands
If you have bulimia, you likely have to force yourself to vomit after binging. This may involve you sticking your fingers in your throat to induce vomiting. This can lead to scarring from your teeth and from stomach acid on your hands.
Between dehydration from excessive vomiting and overuse of medications like laxatives, you can become extremely constipated when you’re bulimic. This can lead to painful straining to have a bowel movement, and sometimes, hemorrhoids.
Constantly making yourself vomit not only depletes your body of food, but water as well. Dehydration can lead to extremely dry and flaky skin. The lost nutrients can also cause your skin to become very dry.
Your esophagus takes a lot of wear-and-tear when you have bulimia. If you have blood in your vomit, it could be a sign that your esophagus has ruptured, which is an emergency.
Bulimia is a serious problem that leads to sometimes irreversible problems with your health. If you have any of these signs, it’s important that you get help right away.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to call us today at 919-446-3232, or request a consultation using our online booking tool.