Bulimia is an eating problem that causes you to binge, which means you eat large amounts of food in a short time without being able to stop. The amount of food you eat is much more than most people would eat at one time. You may then purge, which is getting rid of the food by making yourself vomit or using laxatives, water pills or enemas. You may also cut back on eating or exercise too much to make up for binging.
Most people with bulimia have a normal weight but feel they cannot control their eating. You may swing back and forth between anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is an eating problem that causes you to be so afraid of becoming overweight that you eat as little as possible.
Although the disorder can affect men, most people with bulimia are young women. If you are pregnant, eating disorders can affect your health and your baby’s development.
The exact cause of bulimia is not known. It may be related to problems with the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and appetite.
You may be at risk of developing bulimia if you:
In addition to binging and purging, the signs and symptoms of bulimia include:
If you are a woman and you exercise a lot or your weight gets very low, you may not have monthly periods. Hormone changes result from low weight and low levels of body fat.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. He will ask about your eating habits and other behaviors.
Bulimia does not go away or get better on its own. Treatment involves learning healthy eating habits. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you meet with a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. You may need therapy to help you change how you think about yourself and food.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a way to help you identify and change views you have of yourself, the world, and the future. CBT can make you aware of unhealthy ways of thinking. It can also help you learn new thought and behavior patterns.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help reduce constant thoughts about food. Medicines that help reduce depression and anxiety may help bulimia.
You may need to be hospitalized if your condition is severe and life threatening. Vomiting or using laxatives too often can cause an imbalance of minerals in your body that may lead to irregular heartbeats, heart failure, and death.
If you have bulimia, you may think constantly about eating for many years. You may need to continue treatment for many months. Being under a lot of stress can cause the symptoms to get worse. The earlier you seek treatment, the more successful it is likely to be.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
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