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Eating Disorder Complications

The Health Consequences of Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity

Anorexia

Eating disorders are progressive in nature. Eventually the person who has the eating disorder will begin to experience physical consequences of varying degrees.

Ophthalmologic: Transient blurred vision, dark circles, puffiness under the eyes.

Cardiovascular: Hypotension, Bradycardia, ECG abnormalities.

Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain and fullness, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption of nutrients, fatty infiltration of the liver, pancreatitis.

Renal: Chronic dehydration, tubular and collecting system abnormalities due to electrolyte abnormality, predisposition to renal stones.

Gynecologic: Loss of menstrual periods, Infertility, atrophic vaginitis, Loss of sexual appetite, breast atrophy.

Orthopedic: Osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass leading to muscle weakness.

Endocrine: Decrease in heart rate, sluggish reflexes, dry skin, cold intolerance, and various abnormalities of the hair, abnormal calcium levels.

Dermatologic Dry skin, loss of subcutaneous tissues and fat in general, fine lugano hair.

Effects On The brain and central Nervous System: Lack of REM sleep, hypothalamic abnormality including lower body temperature, loss of shivering response, cold intolerance, and malfunction of entire temperature regulating system due to chronic malnutrition, EEG abnormality.

Fluid and Electrolyte abnormality: Skeletal muscle weakness, diminished reflexes, abnormal gastrointestinal motility, cramps, constipation, cardiac effects, irregular rhythms and sudden death, impaired renal function, emotional instability and chronic fatigue.

Body Chemistries: Uric acid can be elevated, cholesterol is usually increased, carotene is elevated, hypoglycemia.

Hematologic abnormalities: anemia, bone marrow may be deficient or hypocellular.

Psychological: Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends, striving for an abnormal body weight, fear of gaining weight, talk about feeling fat, depression, difficulty eating in front of others, vomiting, frequent strict dieting, compulsive exercising, mood swings, suicidal ideation, dishonest eating behavior, weight determines self esteem, eating for emotional comfort, disturbance of REM sleep patterns, ritualistic eating behavior, substance abuse history, history of addictive relationships, sexual acting out and acting in, spending disorder, shoplifting, preoccupation with physical symptoms.

Bulimia

Dental: Increased dental caries (cavities), loss of enamel and dentin, increased sensitivity to heat and cold, pyorrhea, lacerations and contusions of the oral cavity from the use of objects to induce vomiting, obsessive-compulsive dental behavior.

Pulmonary: Aspiration pneumonia.

Cardiovascular: ECG abnormalities due to electrolyte disturbance, myocardiopathy due to ipecac.

Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain, bloating and fullness, esophageal perforations and lacerations, esophagitis, gastritis, gastric ulceration.

Renal: Tubular abnormalities due to electrolyte abnormalities, azotemia due to dehydration.

Orthopedic: Osteoporosis, stress fractures.

Dermatologic: Scars on the knuckles while inducing vomiting.

Fluid and Electrolyte abnormalities Fluid and Electrolyte abnormalities, skeletal muscle weakness, abnormal GI motility, cramps, frequent urination at night due to diuretics, constipation, emotional lability.

Chemistries: Increase in uric acid, uncrease in cholesterol.

Miscellaneous: Swelling of the lymph glands.

Psychological: Isolation and withdrawal from family and friends, striving for an abnormal body weight, fear of gaining weight, talk about feeling fat, depression, binge eating, difficulty eating in front of others, vomiting, overuse of diuretics and or laxatives, overconcern with body shape and weight, frequent strict dieting, compulsive exercising, mood swings, suicidal ideation, dishonest eating behavior, weight determines self esteem, eating for emotional comfort, disturbance of REM sleep patterns, ritualistic eating behavior, substance abuse history, history of addictive relationships, sexual acting out and acting in, spending disorder, shoplifting, preoccupation with physical symptoms, rage addiction.

Obesity

Cardiovascular: Acute myocardial infarction, cardiac arrythmias, hypertension/

Gastrointestinal: Irritible bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, hemorrhoids, gallbladder disease.

Gynecologic: Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle), infertility, menstrual problems.

Orthopedic and Musculoskeletal: Degenerative arthritis, fibromyalgia due to sleep disorder.

Abnormal Blood Work: Abnormal lipids, abnormal glucose metabolism including diabetes mellitus.

Miscellaneous: Increase infections especially of the skin, venous stasis.

Psychological: Isolation, fear of gaining weight, preoccupation with weight, depression, belief that happiness depends on achieving normal weight (myth), binge eating, difficulty eating in front of others, mood swings, suicidal ideation, minimizing eating behavior, food as a drug, eating rituals.

This information is drawn from Rader Institute's "Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders".

FREE Eating Disorder Support Group!

FREE weekly eating disorder support group for adults struggling with food issues, staffed by therapists from Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers. Thursdays from 5:30-6:45 pm at 3116 N Swan in Tucson. For more information, call 888-520-1700.

"Mirasol is light years ahead of any other program in the country."