Binge eating

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating and subsequent purging.

Although anyone can develop this illness, it is most common in teenage girls and young women.

This cycle of binge eating and purging can often go unnoticed, but left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. Common symptoms of binge eating include:

  • Avoiding eating with others
  • Disappearing to the toilet after meals in order to vomit
  • An intense dread of gaining weight
  • Frequent weight fluctuations
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of food
  • Cravings
  • Obsessed with exercise

Over time bulimia can lead to a variety of health problems. These can include:

  • Tooth decay, discoloured teeth, gum disease and bad breath
  • Patches of rough skin on the knuckles or fingers if they are used to induce vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Puffy face from swollen saliva glands
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Severe dehydration, which can lead to weakness, fainting or kidney damage
  • Inflammation of the stomach and oesophagus
  • Constipation or diarrhoea and abdominal pain
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Difficulty sleeping

Bulimia can cause serious long-term health problems if it is not addressed, including damage to the heart and infertility due to irregular periods.

Treatment includes anti-depressant drugs, education about good eating habits, and various forms of therapy.

None of this will succeed, however, unless the person is committed to resolving this issue.

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