Do You Know the Warning Signs of Bulimia?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Bulimia nervosa, normally referred to as bulimia, is a dangerous and physically draining type of eating disorder.

Bulimics develop a certain ebb and flow with food, taking part in an endless cycle of overeating and later getting rid of the food. The cycle begins with eating massive amounts of food in one sitting, known as binge eating. Minutes after binging, the cycle advances to purging. Purging is often achieved through:

  • Induced vomiting
  • Abuse of laxatives
  • Excessive exercising routines
  • Lack of proper eating/nutrition
  • Diuretic pills

Unfortunately, bulimia is often minimized in the addiction community. Since bulimics usually have healthy body weights, friends and family members rarely recognize the signs of an eating disorder. In fact, bulimia nervosa is sometimes trivialized by medical and mental health professionals. Signs and symptoms are commonly ignored or misdiagnosed.

Comparing Bulimia and Anorexia

While anorexics are classically underweight and visibly unhealthy, bulimics generally maintain a healthy weight for their own age and body type.A new study from the University of California – San Diego suggests that the altered function of neural circuitry contributes to restricted eating in anorexia and overeating in bulimia. While anorexics are classically underweight and visibly unhealthy, bulimics generally maintain a healthy weight for their own age and body type. Additionally, bulimics don’t worry about the number of calories in a binge eating session, whereas anorexics focus on each and every bite of food taken in.

The two eating disorders do have some similarities. At the core of both bulimia and anorexia, people are paralyzed with the fear of gaining weight. They seek out unhealthy ways of losing weight, endangering overall health in an effort to create the ideal body image. Bulimics and anorexics have an altered sense of self and, without the proper treatment, will never be satisfied with their bodies.

10 Warning Signs of Bulimia

  • Life revolves completely around food
  • Daily use of diet, diarrhea, or diuretic pills to assist in purging
  • Trips to the bathroom immediately after eating
  • Exercising for extended periods in less than favorable conditions (such as an illness)
  • Swollen cheeks and jaws
  • Scrapes on the knuckles from trying to induce vomiting
  • Teeth have a thin and clear appearance
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Depression
  • Distorted body image

Top 5 Health Risks Related to Bulimia

  • Continued binging stretches the stomach, causing tears within the organ’s lining and allowing stomach acid to spill into other parts of the body.
  • Heart problems, such as arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, are caused by electrolyte imbalance and altered metabolism.
  • Chronic acid reflux is a widespread problem for bulimics purging on a regular basis.
  • Inflammation of the esophagus is also typical, caused by exposure to stomach acid when throwing up.
  • Dehydration is a direct result of purging and can lead to weakness, fainting, or kidney damage.


If you or someone you know is struggling with bulimia or anorexia, help is available at one of the best eating disorder treatment centers.

Image Source: Flickr

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