On the Inside of an ED

Eating disorders plague three percent of our population, not only of their health, but of their life. What most people do not understand about eating disorders is that the victim did not choose to be this way. Research has proven many links between genetic disorders that lead to involuntarily acquiring an eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), psychological conditions such as: low self-esteem, anxiety, anger management, loneliness, stress, and feeling like a useless person in society, can also lead to eating disorders. There are many types of eating disorders, but most relate to three main categories: Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Bulimia Nervosa. Many people in society know what an eating disorder looks like on the outside, but what we do not always think of is what is happening on the inside of a body of someone with an eating disorder.

 

Anorexia Nervosa is caused by the fear of weight gain and self-image issues relating to the body image. Victims suffering from Anorexia Nervosa go to tremendous measures to keep themselves from gaining weight and about 95% of victims are women. Victims will consistently deny the severity of the situation, which will worsen the problem if they do not seek or accept assistance or help. According the NEDA, the significant health consequences of Anorexia Nervosa include:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which means that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower.

  • Reduction of bone density leading to osteoporosis, which results in dry, brittle bones.

  • Muscle loss and weakness.

  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.

  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.

  • Dry hair and skin, hair loss is also very common.

  • Growth of a downy lay of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

 

    Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a life threatening, but treatable, eating disorder where the victim has recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food to the point of stomach discomfort. The victim will oftentimes then feel a sense of guilt, stress, or shame, followed by taking unhealthy measures such as purging to compensate for the binge eating.  Two thirds of people suffering from BED are overweight, unlike Anorexia Nervosa. According to NEDA, BED’s physical side effects include:

 

  • High blood pressure and High cholesterol levels

  • Heart disease

  • Type II diabetes

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Fatigue

  • Joint Pain

  • Sleep apnea

 

    Bulimia Nervosa is described as a recurring cycle of binge eating habits with actions taken to rid of the food such as self inflicted vomiting to compensate for the large intake of food. Victims will oftentimes feel out of control during their episodes, and take these extreme measures of compensation due to self-esteem issues with body image. Bulimia Nervosa is a potentially life threatening disease that can damage an entire digestive system and cause chemical imbalances throughout the body that can affect heart and other organs from functioning properly. According to NEDA the consequences of Bulimia Nervosa include:

  • Irregular heartbeat patterns with the possibility of heart failure and death. This is caused from purging, which causes dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium in the body.

  • Inflammation of the esophagus with potential to rupture from frequent vomiting.

  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids due to vomiting.

  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation if laxatives are used as a means of compensation.

  • Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect.

 

    Eating disorders are all serious conditions that can be treated with medical care and therapy. If left untreated, they can cause very serious and life threatening side effects. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, call the free confidential hotline of NEDA at 1-800-931-2237, or for more information on this topic visit their online website at www.nationaleatingdisorder.org. Don’t let an eating disorder take over a beautiful life worth living.

 

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