It could be the girl next door or your high school History teacher. The football player or class president you read about in the local paper. Bulimia is an eating disorder that can happen to anyone. Unlike Anorexia where the eating disorder is readily apparent through a huge weight loss, Bulimia can be successively hidden for a long period of time.
No one would be necessarily the wiser unless they caught a Bulimic in the act of bingeing and purging. Another instance where you might discover their secret is if they had to be hospitalized. Bulimia is serious business.
In order to understand the ramifications of this eating disorder and what it does to the body, you have to grasp why it happens and understand the behaviors of a Bulimic. Bulimia usually develops as a result of poor self-esteem.
A person can become distraught with something in their life over which they think they have no control. They will look to food as a way to numb those emotions by bingeing, usually on sweets and junk food. Soon, however, reality creeps in and they become disgusted with themselves and begin to purge.
Purging can come in a variety of forms with the most common being vomiting. They also can over-exercise to “burn off” those calories and even abuse laxatives and diuretics. Fasting is another form of purging.
Unlike Anorexics who don’t see what they are doing to themselves, Bulimics are aware of their actions. That is why they are so secretive during the binge-purge cycle. Unfortunately, it takes a medical problem or being hospitalized for a Bulimic to get help.
This binge-purge cycle is destructive and slowly wreaks havoc on the body. Physically, Bulimia causes problems in a variety of areas, most notably the teeth, gums and esophagus. Because of the continual purging through vomiting, the stomach acids can slowly erode the teeth’s enamel as well cause sores on the gums and esophagus.
Skin and hair problems are common because not enough nutrients are being absorbed. In addition, the body could have electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, irregular heartbeat, and bowel problems.
The purging may also have detrimental effects to the kidneys and heart as well. When someone abuses the use of laxatives and diuretics, the chemical balance of the body is interrupted and a lot of nutrients are lost, most notably potassium.
Heart attack or even sudden death can occur due to low potassium levels. Sometimes, bulimia is suspected by a medical professional when a person goes in for an unrelated reason.
Other times, it takes a physical collapse and hospitalization to interrupt the cycle of bulimia. Only then will a person usually ask for help with their eating disorder.