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What Is Bulimia?

Those with bulimia consume large amounts of food, often thousands of calories, in a very short period of time, and then they will purge it from their bodies. Self-induced vomiting is the standard method, but laxative abuse is also very common.

Both of these behaviors are incredibly hard on the body. Those with bulimia may purge 20 to 30 times a day. The medical complications of bulimia include injury to the esophagus, stomach, teeth and intestines as well as damage to the kidneys and heart.

The emotional impact of bulimia is also severe. A woman with bulimia feels very shameful and guilty about her behavior, and the guilt is intensified by the cost of acquiring so much food.

Bulimia Diagnosis

Doctors typically perform a complete physical exam, blood and urine tests and a psychological evaluation including a discussion of your eating habits and attitude toward food.

Diagnostic Criteria for Bulimia

  • Repeated binging and a feeling that you can’t control your eating
  • You get rid of extra caloric intake from binging by vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting or misuse of laxatives.
  • You binge and purge at least twice a week for three months or more.
  • Your body shape and weight influence your self-worth greatly
  • You don’t have anorexia

Two Types of Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Purging type: self-induction of vomiting or misuse of laxatives after binging.
  • Non-purging type: Use of fasting or excessive exercise to compensate for binge eating.

Bulimia Treatment

Professional care is usually required to break this addictive cycle. Bulimia treatment typically begins with outpatient therapy. This can be effective, but it is not unusual for patients to require a higher level of care with their behavior can be monitored.

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