Bulimia Breakdown: What This Eating Disorder Does to the Body

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.

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  • Tiffany

    iam bulimic, been bulimic for 2years now and for the past 2weeks ive had these most intense headaches that never go away.. i wake up with them and go to bed with them. i get blurry vision, i got really dizzy and have to catch myself b4 i fall to the ground.. i end up having to lay in the floor to get myself back together… ive tried to stop but i cant… i relapse every time.. iam always weak and when i walk down stairs my legs will shake and sometimes give out. i hurt all the time and nothing seems to help for the pain… what should i do? i really dont see this as an emergency so i guess im looking for home remedys or advice.. anything i can get really.

  • savannah

    Sweet Tiffany,
    My dear, these symptoms do indicate an emergency. I too have struggled with this disorder since 2 years ago as well, I have gone in and out of phases of severity, never have i reached physical ailments such as yours though.
    I am currently actively seeking help, Ive tried to stop as well, but it is not something one simply wakes up and is healed of. unfortunately, unlike drugs and alcohol, we cannot run away from food, we cannot turn out back against the “culprit”, but no, instead we are now faced with the task of re-wiring our hardwire so we can re think how we approach food. I suggest you seek help, immediately. if there is anyone you can confide in please do. our friends and family can usually only offer a hand of condolence they only can “imagine” what it is like to have such a compulsion haunt you night and day like some for of sick grim reaper.
    You need psychological help, this sounds like its only for the crazy, but i promise its not. Theyre the only ones who can help you understand why you think the way you think and view food the way you do.
    Sorry if this wasn’t what you need or expected..
    we’re all just human beings trying to figure all this shit out. but we only have this one body our ENTIRE lives, the afterlife being entirely unknown, so ask yourself if this is really how you want to be treating the only sac of skin your given…its kinda crazy if you think of it like that.
    in the end, when we’re old, our health is all we’re going to have.

    not sure if i was writing this to just you or the both of us.
    much luck on your road to recovery, i wish you healing and goodness.

  • Kanda Pfaadt

    I have a special friend that I am trying to help with bulimia. She needs treatment bad and she is willing, but we live in a state where there is none (KY). She has medicare and the sources are limited. I am afraid she is going to die and my heart is breaking. Can you help us?