Bulimia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening condition defined by a regular pattern of compulsive binge eating followed by some type of unhealthy compensatory action. The purging type of bulimia involves self-induced vomiting after binges, or excessive use of laxatives, enemas and diuretics. The non-purging type of bulimia involves compensating for binge eating using excessive fasting or exercise. There is some overlap between the two types.
Bulimia nervosa affects females more commonly than males with an average age of onset of 19 years. Those with a family history of eating disorders are at greater risk. Other risk factors include higher socioeconomic status, underlying mental illness, and over-achieving personality types. Athletes, dancers, models and those in the spotlight are also at greater risk. Exposure to media and peer pressure appear to contribute to the development of eating disorders.
Signs And Symptoms Related To Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia can be difficult to detect, as many of those with this illness go to extravagant lengths to cover up their behavior. In addition, people with bulimia nervosa are usually at a normal weight or overweight. Symptoms also vary by individual pattern of behavior. A few symptoms of bulimia may include:
- Distorted, negative body image
- Excessive preoccupation with weight
- Not wanting to eat in front of other people
- Social isolation
- Consistently going to the bathroom during or right after meals
- Parotid gland swelling
- Dental caries and gum disease
- Knuckle excoriations
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloody vomit, constipation and bloating