Bulimia Nervosa: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating at certain periods and unhealthy behaviors to compensate for these attacks.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating at certain periods and unhealthy behaviors to compensate for these attacks. Bulimia disease can cause serious health problems if left untreated.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa, or better known as bulimia, is a psychiatric eating disorder. Bulimia can cause serious, life-threatening complications.
Patients with bulimia nervosa have a feeling of loss of control over eating. These patients cannot stop their desire to eat for certain periods. As a result, they overeat in one sitting and then resort to unhealthy ways to burn off those calories.
Bulimia patients can try many different methods to get rid of excess calories and prevent weight gain. The most commonly used methods include self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretic medication, and weight loss pills. In addition, patients may use methods such as excessive exercise, fasting for a long time, and following a very strict and strict diet.
Body perception is distorted in bulimia patients and patients constantly think about their weight and body shape. Patients may have harsh and unrealistic thoughts about their bodies. Therefore, treatment of bulimia can be challenging. Improving the patient’s body perception, getting rid of constant thoughts about weight, and gaining healthy eating habits; forms the basis of treatment.
What are the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?
Signs and symptoms seen in bulimia patients:
- Constantly having thoughts about weight and body shape
- Living in fear of gaining weight
- Experiencing binge eating attacks in one sitting
- Inability to stop eating and control what one eats during binge eating attacks
- Forcing yourself to vomit or exercising excessively to compensate for the binge eating
- Using laxatives, enemas or diuretics when there is no medical need
- Fasting for a long time between eating attacks, calorie restriction
- It can be considered as using products such as herbal slimming tea.
The severity of bulimia is determined by the number of purging behaviors the person engages in, such as vomiting or using laxatives. In bulimia, this number is usually in the form of purging that continues at least once a week for at least three months.
When bulimia is left untreated, it causes negative effects on a person’s health. For this reason, people showing symptoms of bulimia should consult a health care provider without delay.
Many bulimia patients are in the normal or slightly overweight range. Therefore, it may not always be easy to understand that a person has bulimia. A bulimia patient may not be aware of their illness or may not want to talk about it due to impaired body perception. A person who suspects that a relative has bulimia cannot force him or her to seek treatment. However, by supporting him, he can give him the confidence that he will help him get through this situation. If a person is around;
- Constantly worrying about being overweight or complaining about their weight
- Having negative thoughts about body shape and image
- Eating foods that he normally tries to avoid, especially in one sitting, and engaging in this behavior repeatedly
- People who start a strict diet after binge eating
- Does not want to eat in front of others in society
- Forces oneself to vomit during or immediately after eating
- excessive exercise
- Having wounds or scars on the hand or finger joints (caused by the habit of making oneself vomit)
- Damage to teeth and gums
- Experiencing rapid weight changes
- If she knows someone who has swelling in the hands and feet, she can help that person get diagnosed and treated for bulimia.
It is necessary to communicate correctly with people who show one or more of the symptoms listed above and to allow these people to express themselves. Judgmental expressions should be avoided when listening to these people. The person should be given the necessary trust and support, and the person should not be pressured for treatment. The person must be properly convinced that he needs treatment and must be directed to a well-equipped health institution.
What Causes Bulimia Nervosa?
It has not yet been fully clarified why bulimia occurs. However, as in other eating disorders, many genetic, psychological and environmental factors are thought to play a role in the development of the disease.
Bulimia disease is more common in women than in men. The disease usually occurs during adolescence and young adulthood.
Situations that increase the risk of developing bulimia:
- Biology: The risk of bulimia is increased in people with eating disorders in their first-degree relatives, such as their mother, father, or sibling. This may be due to the fact that there is a genetic structure that predisposes to eating disorders in families. People who are overweight during childhood also have an increased chance of suffering from bulimia in the future.
- Psychological and Emotional Problems: Psychological or emotional problems such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse are closely related to eating disorders. Bulimia patients may have negative thoughts about themselves. In some cases, traumatic events and environmental stress play a role in the development of bulimia.
- Diet: The risk of developing eating disorders is increased in people who follow a diet, or diet as it is also known. Many people with bulimia restrict calories between eating attacks. This restriction may trigger an eating and purging attack again.
How to Diagnose Bulimia Nervosa?
The patient’s eating behavior is very important in the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa. While questioning the patient’s history, noticing situations such as eating attacks and purging behavior helps make the diagnosis. For diagnosis, the patient is given a physical examination. The patient is asked for blood and urine tests. A psychological evaluation may be performed on the patient to examine the patient’s thoughts about his body and weight. The definitive diagnosis of bulimia is made by a psychiatrist in accordance with various international criteria.
What are the symptoms seen with Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia may cause some symptoms and diseases in patients due to various nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances. The most common of these can be listed as follows:
- nail breakage
- Hair loss, lifeless hair
- Fatigue, weakness
- Menstrual irregularity
- Swelling in lymph nodes
- kidney diseases
- muscle spasms
- heart conditions
How is Bulimia Nervosa Treated?
Using several different methods together in the treatment of bulimia increases the success of treatment. One of the most important methods used in the treatment of the disease is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, helps the patient get rid of negative thoughts about himself and his body. With this therapy, the patient can replace harmful eating habits with healthier behaviors. It may also be beneficial for relatives of bulimia patients to participate in psychotherapy. Thanks to therapy, patient relatives gain detailed information about the disease and can learn what they can do to support the patient.
Antidepressants can also be used to treat bulimia. Antidepressants give effective results when applied together with psychotherapy.
The nutrition list prepared by the bulimia patient with the help of a dietician also helps prevent harmful eating attacks and eliminate excessive calorie restriction between attacks.
Treatment for bulimia often does not require hospitalization. However, patients with severe symptoms and severely impaired general health may need to be hospitalized for treatment.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that must be treated. In case of suspicion of bulimia, it would be beneficial for the patient or the patient’s relative to apply to a well-equipped health center and have the necessary checks done.