February 25, 2016

Bulimia Nervosa

88076-84041According to NEDA, bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by a cycle of bingeing and self-induced vomiting to undo/compensate for the effects of said binge eating. Approximately 80% of sufferers are female, and about 1-2% of adolescents and young adult women are affected by it. In contrast with anorexia, many with bulimia appear to be of average body weight and actually recognize that their behavior is unhealthy/unsafe. If is frequently associated with depression. Evidence of binge eating is mainly the disappearance of excessively large amounts of food in short periods of time (bingeing is often done in private, so be on the lookout for hidden wrappers/other signs of eating in secret). Evidence of purging include frequent trips to the bathroom after eating, signs/smells of vomiting, and the presence of laxatives/the packages of laxatives. If left untreated, or allowed to persist long-term, bulimia can damage the entire digestive system, and the repeated bingeing/purging can cause electrolyte and chemical imbalances: as with any other eating disorder, early diagnosis and early intervention are extremely important. Here are some signs/symptoms to watch for, as well as health consequences.


  • Frequent episodes of bingeing and subsequent purging: a feeling of being out of control often accompanies binge-eating episodes
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image
  • Unusual swelling of the jaws/cheeks area
  • Calluses on the hands/back of knuckles as a result of self-induced vomiting
  • Discoloration/staining of the teeth
  • Continued exercise despite injury (i.e., injuries of overuse)

Health Consequences

  • Irregular heartbeat as a result of electrolyte imbalances caused by dehydration/the loss of potassium and sodium from the body
  • Inflammation/possible rupture of the esophagus as a result of frequent vomiting
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
  • Tooth decay/staining from stomach acid
  • Gastric (i.e., stomach) rupture is uncommon but also possible

All information here was taken from NEDA: click here to visit their website and learn more. If you think you or a friend may be suffering from bulimia, don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources below for help.

On campus:
Engemann Student Counseling Center’s “Eating Disorder Treatment” webpage
“Peace with Food” group: Mondays from 3:00-4:00pm
Counseling Center: call (213) 740-7711 to set up an appointment

Eating disorder risk screening
NEDA Helpline: call (800) 931-2237 between 9:00am-9:00pm Mondays-Thursdays, 9:00am-5:00pm Fridays

Recovery is always possible: click here to visit NEDA’s recovery page, which includes helpful tips for moving past your eating disorder and stories of success.

Check back tomorrow to learn more about binge eating disorder.