This guide will help you learn more about bulimia and how to identify signs of the eating disorder in your teen. The condition, also known as bulimia nervosa , is marked by binge eating, which entails consuming large amounts of food in short periods of time, and purging, which involves eliminating the food or the excess calories from the body by self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise.
Bulimia typically starts during adolescence or young adulthood. About 10 percent to 15 percent of bulimics are believed to be male. Bulimia nervosa is a complex condition likely caused by a combination of factors. Social factors, such as peer pressure or cultural ideals about beauty and body shape, are typically involved as well. They may visit the kitchen in the middle of the night or make an excuse to drive to a fast food restaurant alone. A bulimic teen may be quick to offer to clean the kitchen after a meal, shooing everyone else away so he or she can devour leftovers and scraps.
For example, they might consume an entire box of chocolate chip cookies and then replace it with a new one. Bulimic teens may also cover up eating binges by hiding any evidence, such as food wrappers, containers, or boxes. Hoarding food — In addition to eating in secret, some adolescents with bulimia will hoard food. This allows them to binge when no one else is around. They may also resort to stashing food in their bedroom, purse, gym bag, locker or car. Self-induced vomiting — A bulimic adolescent will often self-induce vomiting in the privacy of the bathroom.
Self-induced vomiting is always done in secret, but it can still leave physical telltale signs. Your teen is likely purging if he or she:. Some teenagers will use laxatives to induce bowel movements.
Diuretics can also be used to increase urine output in the belief that it will lower body weight. Using diet aids — Teens with bulimia may purge by using diet pills excessively after a binge. Exercising excessively after eating — A bulimic adolescent may work out vigorously, especially after an episode of binge eating, in order to burn off extra calories. Sometimes this is done in combination with self-induced vomiting. Eating large quantities of food without gaining weight — Teens generally have a reputation for having higher metabolisms than adults.
However, if they are consuming large quantities of food, consistently, without gaining weight, that may be a warning sign of bulimia. Be alert for prolonged periods of sadness, listlessness, or hopelessness. If your teen becomes preoccupied with death or suicide, or starts to give away treasured belongings, seek immediate medical attention. Irregular menstrual cycles — The malnutrition that often occurs with bulimia can lead to hormonal fluctuations that cause menstrual periods to become irregular or cease.
Girls with bulimia who purge by vomiting at least once a week are three times more likely to experience irregular periods. Serious medical problems — Sometimes, the first indication of bulimia is the appearance of an illness or condition that requires medical attention. Constant cycles of bingeing and purging can result in a ruptured esophagus or stomach, irregular heartbeat, or kidney problems.
Early treatment will minimize its significant physical effects. In addition, the longer bulimia persists without treatment, the more difficult it is to reverse the behaviors. Skip to content. Call Now 1. Bulimia Defined The condition, also known as bulimia nervosa , is marked by binge eating, which entails consuming large amounts of food in short periods of time, and purging, which involves eliminating the food or the excess calories from the body by self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise.
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