Diet & Nutrition

Bulimia

Description

Bulimia or bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that can even result in death. A person diagnosed with bulimia tends to eat a large amount of food followed by purging in order to get rid of extra calories gained in an unhealthy way. This condition makes the person secretly binge, vomit and perform an excessive exercise or fast and can cause them to be overweight or obese. It is a serious mental illness where eating becomes a compulsion and the person punish himself/herself by insensitively eating, purging, fasting and exercising. Treating bulimia requires intense medical treatment in order to overcome the eating disorder.

Types of bulimia

  • Purging bulimia: People vomit, misuse diuretics, laxatives, or enemas after bingeing to get rid of extra calories.

  • Nonpurging bulimia: People use other methods such as fasting, excessive exercising and strict dieting to burn extra calories.

Causes and symptoms

There isn’t an exact known cause for developing bulimia, but there are some factors that could be responsible for developing this eating disorders, which are:

  • Emotional instability caused by guilt, fear, stress, depression

  • Being female

  • Age (mainly late teens)

  • Family history of eating disorders

  • Psychological issues

  • Being highly active

  • Low self esteem

Symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Being obsessed with body shape and weight

  • Fear of getting fat

  • Inability to control eating behavior

  • Excessive eating to the point of pain and discomfort

  • Misusing diuretics, laxatives, and enemas

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Isolation

  • Uncommon behavior of losing weight

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Dehydration

  • Fainting

  • Dry skin

  • Seizure

  • Stomach problems

  • Abnormality in menstrual periods

  • Muscle cramps

  • Abnormal heart rate





Diagnosis

A doctor can suspect bulimia after thoroughly examining your signs and symptoms and performing a few medical tests such as blood tests, urine test and physical examination. If a doctor can’t seem to understand the issue, he/she may recommend you to a psychologist who will discuss your eating habits and your thinking towards food. Other medical tests such imagine tests may be performed in order to rule out other medical causes for increased weight.



Treatment

Treatment of bulimia varies for different patient based on the severity of the condition. If you are in a beginning stage of bulimia, your doctor may prescribe you medications to help you relieve from symptoms. However, if the diagnosis is done quite late, you may require to hospitalize.

Below are mentioned detailed treatment procedures of bulimia:

  • Psychotherapy: This procedure involves discussing your mental behavior and eating habits with a mental health specialist who will analyze your symptoms and help you overcome difficulties you are facing in your life. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will help you eliminate negative thoughts and beliefs and encourage you to live a normal and healthy life by replacing those discouraging thoughts with positive ones. And interpersonal psychotherapy will allow you manage your relationships and increase communication skills.

  • Medication: Medication is another highly effective treatment method for bulimia where the doctor will prescribe antidepressants and other relative medicines to help you get rid of depression and negative thoughts, and concentrate on having a balanced diet and stable mind. It is also used hand in hand with psychotherapy to provide the best possible results. The main aim of the medicines is to help the patient restrict excessive eating habits by stabling their minds and overcoming depression and other negative thoughts.

In many severe cases, patient also require to be hospitalized to prevent from serious health complications. Other methods include changing dietary plans and providing herbal supplements to suppress appetite and reduce weight.



Complications

Bulimia treatment can cause many adverse complications to the patient, which needs to be discussed with the doctor before the treatment. These complications include:

  • Irritability

  • Insomnia

  • Drowsiness

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of sexual desire

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Dry mouth

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and vomiting

Post operative care

Treatment of bulimia continues for quite a long time and involves an approach with you and your family. It is important for your family and friends to provide all the required support for you overcome your condition.

Take prescribed medication as directed and never miss any dose. Do not stop taking medications without consulting with your doctor, even though you feel stable and comfortable.

Maintain your diet given by your dietician and try to avoid eating outside of your diet plan.

It will take time to recover from purging and bingeing, but do not feel irritated about it.

Join rehabilitation programs and support groups to learn better ways to treat your condition and construct a healthy relationship.

Visit your doctor regularly for follow up check ups.