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Bulimia Nervosa


Early Symptoms of Bulimia

   Low self-esteem
   Feeling that self worth is dependent on low weight
   Dependent on opposites for approval
   Normal weight
   Constant concern with weight & body image
   Experimentation with vomiting, laxatives & diuretics
   Poor impulsive control

Middle Stage Symptoms of Bulimia

   Fear of bingeing
   Eating getting out of control
   Self indulgent behavior
   Eats alone
   Preoccupation with eating & food
   Gastrointestinal disorders
   Elimination of normal activities
   Social isolation
   Distancing friends & family
   Stealing food / money
   Tooth damage
   Gum disease
   High carbohydrate food

Crucial Stage Symptoms of Bulimia

   Drugs & alcohol abuse
   Laxative & diuretic abuse
   Mood swings
   Chronic sore throat
   Difficulties in breathing or swallowing
   Hypokalemia (abnormally low potassium)
   Electrolyte imbalance
   General ill health
   Constant physical problems
   Possible rupture of the heart
   Possible rupture of the esophagus
   Severe dehydration
   Irregular heart rhythms
   Suicidal tendencies or attempts

(These symptoms are taken from the following website:

  How Bulimia Nervosa Affects the Body

Source Citation: "Eating Disorders." Caroline M. Levchuck, Jane Kelly Kosek, and Michele Drohan. Healthy Living. Allison McNeill, Editor. Farmington Hills, Mich.: UXL, 2000.

"The frequent purging that occurs with bulimia does serious damage to the body. Self-induced vomiting can severely damage the digestive system. Repeated vomiting also damages the esophagus (throat) and eventually it may tear and bleed. Vomiting brings stomach acids into the mouth, causing the enamel on the teeth to wear away. As a result, the teeth may become weakened and appear ragged. There will also be an increase in cavities from vomiting.

Other consequences include swollen salivary glands, which gives some bulimics the appearance of having chipmunk cheeks, and cuts and sores on the knuckles from repeatedly sticking one's fingers down the throat to induce vomiting (known as "Russell's sign"). Stomach cramps and difficulty in swallowing are also common.

If laxatives (drugs that induce bowel movements) are abused, constipation will result because the body can no longer produce a bowel movement on its own. Abuse of laxatives and diuretics (drugs that expel water from the body through urination) can also cause bloating, water retention, and edema (swelling) of the stomach. Because the body is constantly being denied the nutrients and fluids it needs to survive, the kidneys and heart will also suffer. Specifically, a lack of potassium will result in cardiac abnormalities and possible kidney failure, which can also result in death."