10 Things you need to know about bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder where people will eat lots of food in an eating binge and then purge themselves of that food by either inducing vomiting, or taking laxatives. Bulimia, is far more that simply an issue about food, people with bulimia see their purging and their ability to control their weight, as a way of taking control of their own lives when they are feeling stressed, anxious, or when there are other aspects of their lives that they feel they have no control over. There is, though, no one single cause of bulimia and it is sometimes hard to spot because people suffering from the disease often manage to maintain a normal looking weight. Here are ten more facts about bulimia that everyone should know.

1. It is not only women that suffer from bulimia

It is a common misconception that eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are a female only illness, but this is completely untrue. It is estimated that up to 15% of sufferers of eating disorders are male, and that percentage is currently on the increase.

2. The disease can be genetic

It is still not clear what the root causes of bulimia are, but depression and social pressures certainly play their part. Recent research has also suggested that here may be a genetic element and that people who have relatives in their close family who have suffered from bulimia, may be more prone to the disease themselves.

3. You can’t tell if a person is bulimic by their weight

Unlike anorexia, where sufferers do often show the signs of extreme weight loss, bulimia sufferers often maintain an average body weight. People with bulimia alternate between binging and purging and can still maintain a reasonable calorie intake. This is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult for doctors to diagnose the disease.

4. Bulimia can be a lifelong problem

Bulimia can be treated and that often means often means treating the underlying causes, such as depression, but even after treatment, the disorder can re-occur. Patients who successfully control their bulimia are taught to recognise the warning signs and identify the triggers to their condition, so that can seek help as soon as they need it.

5. Only 1 in 10 people seek professional help for eating disorders

The Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) estimate that only one in every ten people who have eating disorders never seek proper medical help with the problem. That is a startling statistic, especially given the serious dangers to health that eating disorders pose for people.

6. People with bulimia are not just being vain

Another misconception about bulimia is the belief that people who have the disorder are vain and are only concerned about their appearance. The causes of bulimia are far deeper than that and many bulimia suffers have very poor self-images of their own body. The binging and purging is a reaction to anger, depression and self-hate, not simply a desire to stay slim.

7. Bulimia can cause great harm to the body

The body needs nutrition on a regular basis to stay healthy and bulimia affects far more than just a person’s weight. It can also have an impact on every part of the body, including the skin, the hair, and the internal organs.

8. Bulimia is far more common than you may have realised

If you thought that bulimia was quite rare, then think again; because it is estimated that one in ten American women, between the ages of 15 and 30, are affected by the disorder. That’s quite a shocking statistic, especially when you apply that percentage the number of people within the age range that you know, just in your own close circle of friends.

9. Bulimia is a dangerous mental condition

Eating disorders are considered the most dangerous of all the mental disorders and the most likely to, ultimately, cause fatalities. Aside from the physical damage that bulimia can do to the body, there is also the mental harm that it can do as well. Sufferers of bulimia often feel shame about their compulsions and can become depressed and suicidal.

10. Bulimia can inhibit the reproductive system

People with bulimia often miss periods and the damage to their reproductive system can be long term and affect their ability to have children. Bulimia can cause stillbirths and miscarriages and it is also believed to be the cause of some birth defects in unborn children. The dangers of issues with child birth are particularly acute if the mother is actively binging and purging during pregnancy.

Stay happy and healthy!

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