- Cultural bias toward thinness
- Changes in the level of brain chemicals
- Emotional stress
- Disturbed self-image
- Eating unusually large amounts of food at one time
- Feeling like eating is out of control
- Intentional/forced vomiting
- Taking laxatives, enemas, water pills, or diet pills
- Exercising excessively
- Having dramatic changes in mood
- Having symptoms of depression
- Having difficulty controlling your impulses
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Abdominal pain and heartburn
- Menstrual problems
- Swollen cheeks and jaw
- Sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands (in the mouth and throat)
- Stained or chipped teeth (due to contact with stomach acid)
- Cuts or scars on back of hands (from scraping skin on teeth during forced vomiting)
- Dental and throat problems from stomach acid that rises during vomiting
- Changes in body chemistry and fluids due to vomiting and abuse of laxatives or water pills
- Lightheadedness, which can lead to feeling faint or fainting
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart problems, including sudden cardiac arrest , which can be fatal
- Blood tests—to look for chemical imbalances
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)—to check for abnormal heart rhythms
- Drug screening—to check for drug use
|Bulimia can lead to severe heart problems.|
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- Gain insight into the problem
- Recognize what triggers binging and purging
- Develop new coping skills
- Learn and practice stress-management techniques
- Talk about feelings
- Develop a more appropriate idea of thinness
- Develop healthier attitudes about eating
- Learn to eat regularly to reduce the urge to binge
- Maintain a rational approach to dieting and food.
- Accept a realistic body image.
- Take pride in what you do well.
- Set realistic goals.
Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you think:
- Your desire to be thin is getting out of control
- You may be developing an eating disorder
- If you have a friend/family member who may have bulimia, encourage this person to get help.
Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide for Family and Friends http://www.bulimiaguide.org
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders http://www.anad.org
Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association http://www.bana.ca
Canadian Mental Health Association http://www.ontario.cmha.ca
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 17, 2012. Accessed August 28, 2012.
Bulimia nervosa fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/bulimia-nervosa.html. Updated June 15, 2009. Accessed August 28, 2012.
What are eating disorders? National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed August 28, 2012.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/23/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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