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Bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder which involves bingeing on food then vomiting, also know as purging, this cycle can lead to many different health issues, among them kidney disease, heart disease, osteoporosis and even death. As the most common of all eating disorders Bulimia typically affects women and teens. However, the last decade has seen and alarming number of young men also suffering with this deadly disease.

Warning signs, Symptoms, Treatment

Most people have been through it: using food to deal with feelings of boredom, stress, anxiety and even loneliness However with bulimia, overindulging is definitely more like a compulsion and therefore very difficult to actually counter on your own. And rather than eating properly in order to make up for it, you punish yourself by making yourself sick, going on a fast, or even working out to eliminate the excess calories. This vicious circle of binging and purging will take a devastating toll on your body and also your emotional well-being. Nevertheless the cycle can be broken. Therapy may help you establish a much healthier relationship with food as well as rise above feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame.


Some individuals with bulimia will experience:

  • Bingeing on a regular basis. They eat large amounts of food in a short period of time, often over a couple of hours or less. During a binge, they feel out of control and feel unable to stop eating.
  • Frequent purging to get rid of the food and avoid weight gain. They may make themselves vomit, exercise very hard or for a long time, or misuse laxatives, enemas, water pills (diuretics), or other medicines.
  • Base how they feel about themselves on how much they weigh and how they look.

Any one of these can be a sign of an eating disorder that needs immediate treatment by an experienced professional.

Bulimia is different from anorexia nervosa, another eating disorder. People who have anorexia eat so little that they become extremely thin. People who have bulimia may not be thin. They may be a normal size. They may binge in secret and deny that they are purging. This makes it hard for others to know that a person with bulimia has a serious problem.

If you are concerned about someone, look for the following signs. A person may have bulimia if they:

  • Goes to the bathroom right after meals.
  • Is secretive about eating, hides food, or will not eat around other people.
  • Exercises a lot, even when she does not feel well.
  • Often talks about dieting, weight, and body shape.
  • Uses laxatives or diuretics often.
  • Has teeth marks or calluses on the back of her hands or swollen cheeks or jaws. These are caused by making herself vomit.


Bulimia can be treated with psychological counseling and sometimes medicines, such as antidepressants. The sooner treatment is started, the better. Getting treatment early can make recovery easier and prevent serious health problems.

By working with a counselor, a person with bulimia can learn to feel better about herself. She can learn to eat normally again and stop purging.

Other mental health problems such as depression often happen with bulimia. If a person has another condition along with bulimia, more treatment may be needed, and it may take longer to get better.

Eating disorders can take a long time to overcome. And it is common to fall back into unhealthy ways of eating. If you are having problems, don’t try to handle them on your own. Get help, you aren’t alone.

Image: Stefano Covre