Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia: Get the facts

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia: Get the facts

Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8:02 pm
By: Miranda Williams, Special to The Press

By Miranda 

Williams

Special to The Press

There are approximately ten million females and one million males suffering from eating disorders in the United States. It has been shown that 80 percent of women are not satisfied with what their body looks like. The people that have eating disorders are ashamed and are probably not going to willingly admit that they have one; so many cases are probably not reported. The two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Anorexia Nervosa has a death rate this is 12 times higher than any other cause of death in girls between the ages of 15 and 24. In a 2003 review, it is said that 40 percent of new cases of anorexia are in girls between the ages of 15 and 19. Four out of 10 Americans has either had an eating disorder or has known someone who has had one.

There are early signs that someone could be suffering from an eating disorder and that includes visible weight change, dizziness, fatigue and weakness. They could also have chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, cold intolerance and hair loss. There are many signs to show that something could be wrong. Eating disorders are emotional and physical problems that can be life threatening.

Anorexia Nervosa involves starving oneself and losing extreme amounts of weight. People with anorexia don’t want to have a healthy body weight. They have a body weight that is below normal for someone of their height and age. They will refuse to eat because they have an abnormal fear or being fat or gaining weight. They think that gaining weight is bad and that they look fat. They see themselves as being big when in reality they are nothing but bones. 

They are usually obsessed with body weight and image. Food is normally what they think about and they will actually refuse to eat food even if they are hungry. In the show, “What’s eating you?” a girl with anorexia would not even eat a cupcake because she was scared of gaining weight. A doctor told one girl that if she didn’t seek help and gain weight she would die and she said she would rather die than gain any weight.

People with anorexia will oftentimes try to avoid being in situations in which there is going to be food. They might chew their food a lot or just rearrange their food on their plate so that it looks like they have eaten. They can have withdrawals from their friends. People can also have a very strict exercise plan. They feel like they have to exercise no matter what. They feel as if they must burn off the calories even though they have barely taken any in. They will exercise even if they are tired and don’t feel like it.

There are many things that can happen to a person with anorexia. Their heart rate and blood pressure will drop. This can cause them to have heart failure. They have muscle loss and weakness. Their bones can become dry and brittle and this can result in osteoporosis. Dehydration can be a result of anorexia and this can lead to kidney failure. The person who suffers from anorexia can have a growth of hair called lanugo all over the body. This is an effort to keep the body warm. It is said that about five to 20 percent of people suffering from anorexia will die.

Bulimia involves a person eating a lot of food at one time and then purging. They will eat so much food at one time that it is more than an entire day’s worth of food. Sometimes they can eat several thousand calories at one time and they feel bad about it so they will go vomit, take a laxative or go exercise an extreme amount to get their bodies rid of the calories. People with bulimia have several episodes of binging and purging. They will eat to the point that they are no longer comfortable. They will eat way beyond the point of what they should at one meal. They can consume several days’ worth of food at one time and then they will go rid their bodies of it. They feel like they are out of control and can’t stop eating. They go on frequent diets. People with bulimia also have a lot of body issues. They feel like they are way too big even when, in reality, they are small.

People with bulimia will often go to the bathroom after meals to vomit. They will have discoloration of the teeth from where they have been vomiting. Also, there can be calluses on their hands where they have made themselves vomit. Their cheeks and jaws can look like they are swollen. They will have a strict exercise routine. They exercise to an extreme to make sure that they have burned off all their calories. Even if they are injured and unable to exercise, they will still find a way to exercise. They could run in a marathon and after other people are tired from it, they will go to the gym and run or work out some more.

Bulimia is extremely harmful to the body. The vomiting can cause harm to the digestive system and it can also cause electrolyte and chemical imbalances. These imbalances can affect the heart and other major organs. The electrolyte imbalances can cause people to have an irregular heartbeat and can possibly even lead to death. The vomiting can cause inflammation and possibly even cause the esophagus to rupture. It can also cause your teeth to decay from vomiting so much. People with bulimia will appear to be an average body weight. Almost 80 percent of the people suffering from bulimia are women. These people often realize that their behaviors are not normal and can be dangerous to their health and possibly even kill them.

People who suffer from anorexia and bulimia often have a low self-esteem. They also feel like they have a lack of control over things that are going on around them. Eating disorders can run in the family. Also, some contributing factors to eating disorders can be the way the world portrays thinness as beauty. All of the models are so then and they portray that as how people should look. 

Anorexia and bulimia are two of the major eating disorders. They can be life threatening, especially if they are not caught and treated early enough. People should try to help anyone who they know has an eating disorder. They can be treated and the person can go on to have a normal life. Eating disorders are treated easier if they are caught earlier. 

Miranda Williams is a senior dietetic student at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

wcp 3/29/11

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