Eating Disorders: Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa
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For today, I thought we could talk about eating disorders, and among eating disorders, two of the most common ones are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.
If both are considered eating disorders, then what makes them different right? Difference between the two stems from the obvious characteristic of anorexia nervosa, which is extreme emaciation. The term anorexia translates to a loss of appetite, but this is a misnomer. People with anorexia nervosa are hungry, yet they starve themselves nevertheless. Some unfortunate victims literally starve themselves to death.
On the other hand, Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise. Bulimia nervosa translates to ox appetite; however, they have an average appetite. Paradoxically, the problem may result from trying to maintain a weight below the body’s natural set point, an effort that results in a yo-yo struggle with binge eating and compensation. Most sufferers view binge eating as a failure of control, but it really is their body’s natural reaction to unnatural weight suppression.
How does this apply to me? If you are a female, suffering from anorexia and/or bulimia is ten times more common than for males, and it usually develops among women in their teens and early twenties. However, this statistic does not exempt men from suffering from either disorder and should look out for the following symptoms.
Symptoms of Anorexia are:
Significantly low weight
Fear of gaining weight
Disturbance in experiencing weight or shape
Symptoms of Bulimia are:
Inappropriate compensatory behavior
Excessive emphasis on weight and shape
If you start recognizing symptoms of anorexia or bulimia, please be aware that they can cause several medical complications.
People with Anorexia commonly complain about constipation, abdominal pain, intolerance to colds, and lethargy. Some of these complaints stem from the effects of semi-starvation on blood pressure and body temperature, which may fall below normal. In addition, the skin can become dry and cracked, and some people develop lanugo, a fine, downy hair, on the face or trunk of their body. A particular dangerous medical complication is an electrolyte imbalance, a disturbance in the levels of potassium, sodium, calcium, and other vital elements found in bodily fluids. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to cardiac arrest or kidney failure. Anorexia can start as a harmless desire to be thinner, but it can lead to serious health problems, including your death.
For Bulimia, repeated vomiting can erode dental enamel, particularly on the teeth (the acid from the vomit removes the protective layer). In severe cases, teeth can become chipped and ragged looking. Another possible complication is the enlargement of the salivary glands, a consequence that has the ironic effect of making the sufferer's face appear puffy. The most dangerous is the esophagus rupture or stomach, leading to death.
If you were wondering what medical complications anorexia and bulimia have in common, they have dental enamel/erosion and electrolyte imbalance as a complication.
So both women and men need to be aware that they are both at risk of developing anorexia and bulimia nervosa in their teens and early twenties.
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