What is Bulimia?
Persons who consume large amounts of food at one time are bulimic. This is known as binge eating. Afterwards, individuals try to get rid of what they consumed by purging. Some individuals use laxatives and or diuretics to lose fluid weight. Some people exercise excessively in order to burn off the extra calories they eat. This behavior may occur occasionally, weekly or several times within a day. Bulimia may be a temporary or sporadic problem, but for some, it becomes a way of life.
What are the health consequences?
Individuals who are bulimic are at risk for malnutrition and dehydration, which results in many other health problems such as:
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Muscle cramping
- Erratic heartbeat, damage to the heart muscle
- Hair loss
- Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle)
- Osteoporosis (loss of calcium from the bones)
- Increase risk of fractures
Other risk associated with vomiting include:
- Irritation or bleeding of the esophagus
- Tooth decay (from the acid in the stomach)
How can I help a friend?
Express your concern and ask if they are interested in getting help. Offer to help find professional help and go along with them to the first visit. Please remember to not feel guilty if your friend is not willing to acknowledge the problem or change their behaviors. No one can “fix” a behavior until they are ready to help themselves. For a person to be successful in any behavior change, it has to be meaningful, important and to come from within.
Where can I get help?
Students can seek help from the Counseling Center or the Health and Wellness Center on campus or any other professional mental health counselor or physician. Later in the recovery process, individuals may work with dietitians and health educators.