Know the Signs: How Can You Tell if a Loved One Has Bulimia?
Bulimia is an eating disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. Like many maladies, without diagnosis and proper treatment, bulimia may be fatal to those afflicted. The disease manifests in different ways, with multiple warning signs and symptoms.
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health helps you understand the condition and shares the signs that indicate a close friend or family member is suffering from the disorder. Identifying the symptoms is a vital step in getting them a treatment plan for bulimia that could save their life.
Who can be Afflicted by Bulimia?
Statistics indicate that bulimia nervosa afflicts approximately 0.5 percent of men and 1.5 percent of women in the United States. This is roughly 1.5 million men and 4.7 million women living with the disorder. Although bulimia mostly manifests during adolescence and young adulthood, it may also occur among children or older adults.
Cases of bulimia among women are more widespread, but 10 to 15 percent of bulimics are male. The risk is greater among men who are in sports where lean body types are more prevalent, and among gay or bisexual men. People of African American or Latin descent are also more likely to develop the disorder.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia?
Bulimia primarily presents as episodes of binge eating, when someone eats a lot of food in one sitting, followed by purging. Purging usually takes the form of self-induced vomiting, but bulimics also achieve it through the overuse of laxatives and enemas, or excessive use of weight-loss supplements. Bulimics obsess about removing excess calories and weight. To this end, they may abuse fasting methods, follow extreme dieting practices, or overindulge in exercises.
If you suspect that a loved one has developed bulimia, you must pay attention to psychological and physiological signs.
The psychological symptoms of bulimia nervosa include the following:
- They’re preoccupied with thoughts of weight-loss, body image, fat, or calories
- They don’t like eating when other people are around
- They’re too concerned about their body size or shape
- They’ve developed irregular eating habits
- They’re afraid of any weight gain
- They frequently excuse themselves after a meal to go to the bathroom and spend an inordinate amount of time there
- After their trips to the bathroom, they consume large amounts of breath mints or use lots of mouthwash to cover up the smell of their purging
The physiological effects of bulimia manifest as any or all the following:
- Their weight fluctuates up and down
- They have dental health issues, such as enamel erosion, discoloration, tooth sensitivity, and cavities, from their vomiting
- Their hands are scarred or calloused, form inducing vomiting
- Their hands and feet start to swell
- Fine, downy hair strands start growing on their bodies, which is lanugo, a sign of malnutrition.
If someone you care about is manifesting multiple symptoms, they may be suffering from bulimia nervosa. Bulimia is difficult to handle without professional help since it stems from a problem of self-image rather than perceived physiological flaws. Without the assistance of trained individuals, bulimia may eat a person away. Don’t wait until it’s too late to contact a reliable treatment facility.
Better Health in Connecticut
At the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, experts use cognitive behavioral therapy to get to the root of eating disorders and other mental issues. Contact us for more details about our treatments.