One of the eating disorders that very often goes hidden in those suffering is that of bulimia. While bulimia may not quite have the fatality rate as anorexia does as many individuals suffering do not approach deathly low body weights, this definitely does not mean that it's not a serious condition that must be treated accordingly.
Often users who start off with bulimia may eventually develop full blown anorexia, or at least show anorexic tendencies at some point in their lifetime.
Let's take a closer look at what bulimia is so that you can fully understand this disorder.
What Bulimia Is
Bulimia is characterized by an individual who undergoes binging and then in effort to prevent weight gain from their binge, will purge the food from their system either by self-induced vomiting or taking laxatives. In some cases the person with bulimia will also use compulsive exercise to burn off the calories that they've consumed, so that's yet another way they deal with their disorder.
This purging side of bulimia is what differentiates it from someone who simply just has binge-disorder and eats a vast quantity of food over a short period of time.
It's not abnormal to find bulimics downing thousands of calories over the course of an hour as they go about a binge, where they often feel completely out of control and eventually develop self-hatred for their behaviours.
In some cases the purging doesn't even have to come as a result of a binge. Bulimics who do have anorexic tendencies may purge after a standard sized meal as well to prevent weight gain.
Why Bulimia Occurs
Bulimia can occur for a number of reasons as well, many of which are similar to that of anorexia. In a world where 'thin is in', people go to all extremes to prevent weight gain and purging is one method of ridding the body of excess calories.
Those who do add in very high calorie binge cycles with their purging often are using food as a strong coping mechanism for other problems in their lives. Usually it's not about food at all but rather the comfort that food temporarily provides them.
Health Risks Associated With Bulimia
Perhaps one of the greatest risks associated with bulimia is severe electrolyte imbalances as when purging takes place the body will be robbed of its potassium and sodium stores. In addition to this, other effects include abdominal pain and bloating, sore throat, broken blood vessels from the purging, tooth decay from stomach acid, ulcers, as well as a ruptured stomach or oesophagus.
If you or someone you know is suffering from bulimia, the first stage of getting help is seeing a counsellor or psychologist. This disorder is very psychologically based so often it can be treated using various counselling techniques.
The goal will be to pinpoint what brings on a binge or a purge and identify why the individual is turning to these coping methods for other problems in their life.
If the purging occurs without the binge, then poor body issues or low self-esteem issues may be at play as this person feels that they need to lose weight and obtain a certain bodyweight ideal.
By treating these underlying thought patterns while working with a nutritionist so that they can learn how to eat healthfully for maintaining their weight, this disorder can often be overcome.
So there you have the facts to note about bulimia. Many people hide this disorder for months or years from other people and binge and purge in private so it's one that very often the individual suffering needs to seek help for themselves.