Defined by eating excessive amounts of food and then purging that food from the body, there are a number of health problems that result from bulimia. The constant cycle of overeating and the various attempts to purge those calories before they are absorbed can damage the body’s digestive system – as well as cause a host of other problems.
Health Problems Caused by Bulimia
Common health consequences of bulimia include:
- Loss of electrolytes: This can result in arrhythmia (e.g., irregular heartbeats), heart failure and even death.
- Dehydration: Dehydration causes the loss of electrolytes and the consequent electrolyte imbalance can create the heart problems above – especially when it is combined with a loss of potassium and sodium due to purging by vomiting or using laxatives.
- Damage to major organs: The esophagus is one of the organs that can be damaged by bulimia. Inflammation and rupture can occur due to chronic vomiting. Gastric rupture is another possible effect of bulimia, caused by binge eating.
- Oral health problems: Vomiting brings stomach acids up into the mouth and when this happens repeatedly, it can cause rapid tooth decay and staining of the teeth.
- Bowel issues: If laxatives are used in an attempt to purge unwanted calories before they are absorbed, it can mean chronic constipation and difficulty maintaining regular bowel movements.
Bulimia Is Deadly
Though most who live with the disorder recognize that it’s not healthy, they have a hard time finding healthier ways to deal with body image. Many are of “normal” weight for their body size, so others may not realize that they struggle with the issue unless they catch them in the act of purging. Unfortunately, it’s a disorder that co-occurs with other life-threatening mental health disorders, like depression. Because it is not always easy to identify, too many patients go without the treatment they need and end up with lifelong health problems that can be deadly.
Treating Bulimia and Co-occurring Substance Abuse
At Futures Recovery Healthcare, we help people and families struggling with the disease of drug or alcohol addiction, especially when complicated and accompanied by a co-occurring issue like bulimia. Since substance abuse or drug or alcohol dependencies can often co-occur with an eating disorder, our individualized treatment program is designed to explore and change the underlying core issues that drive each individual’s addiction and disorder. We are here to help you gain control of your eating disorder and your addiction through our clinical, medical, and wellness care programs. If you or a loved one is suffering from bulimia along with addiction, call Futures today for the help you need.