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Long-Term Effects of Bulimia

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Long-Term Effects of Bulimia

Young lad pondering the long term effects of bulimia

When we think of serious eating disorders, we often think first of the immediate physical damage that an individual is doing to their body. However, the consequences of disorders like bulimia can build up quickly. Since the condition constantly subjects the body to drastic physical changes, there is little time for a person’s natural immune system to fight back. The long-term effects of bulimia can be significantly harmful. That’s why it’s imperative to seek help. 

At Red Oak Recovery®, we’re dedicated to guiding clients out of the destructive cycle of eating disorders. We’ve got your back if you’re looking for help for yourself or a loved one. To find out more about our bulimia treatment program, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 828.382.9699 today. 

Causes, Symptoms, and Effects of Bulimia: A Short Guide 

Almost everyone has heard of bulimia, but not everybody understands what it is. Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by cycles of binge eating, usually followed by self-induced vomiting. Few people are open about this condition: it is often a secretive disorder.  

Symptoms of Bulimia 

Bulimia’s causes are complex and subjective. Generally, however, a person may feel an overwhelming urge to overeat. Afterward, feelings of guilt surrounding weight gain and body issues lead to purging. An individual might induce vomiting or take laxatives or diuretics. Some common symptoms of bulimia include: 

  • Drastic and unhealthy weight loss: An individual suffering from bulimia will often lose weight rapidly. Once the disorder has progressed to a critical point, they might appear to be emaciated. 
  • Other noticeable physical symptoms: Individuals with bulimia often have calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles, swelling in the cheeks or jaw area, and discoloration or staining of the teeth from excessive vomiting. 
  • Frequent use of the restroom after meals: Though it’s normal to excuse oneself to go to the restroom while dining, individuals with bulimia will often wait until the meal has ended and disappear into the restroom for longer than normal periods. 

If a person is exhibiting these symptoms constantly, attempting to intervene is a good idea. Peers and family members can play a crucial role in recognizing behaviors typical of bulimia and encouraging their loved one to seek professional help. 

Long-Term Effects of Bulimia 

Like most disorders, bulimia worsens if left untreated. Some long-term side effects include: 

  • Cardiac risks: The repetitive cycle of bingeing and purging can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Over time, this can cause heart arrhythmias and enlargement of the heart muscle. These conditions can be life-threatening. 
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Because it involves frequent vomiting, bulimia can cause gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcers. In severe cases, bulimia can increase the risk of developing gastrointestinal cancers due to chronic irritation of the digestive tract. 
  • Damage to teeth and gums: The acid from constant vomiting wears away the enamel on the teeth. It can also induce gum disease, tooth sensitivity, and, in severe cases, tooth decay, which can lead to tooth loss. 
  • Endocrine system challenges: The stress placed on the endocrine system from bulimia can result in hormonal imbalances, changes in insulin levels, and the potential development of diabetes. 

Needless to say, these physical conditions can worsen the mental health issues that contribute to bulimia in the first place. Anxiety and depression can increase, as can the sense of isolation felt by many individuals. 

Treatment Options and Recovery 

Recovering from the side effects of bulimia long term is challenging, but it’s important to remember that many people have flourished in recovery. Treatment for bulimia involves multiple strategies. Some of these include: 

  • Therapy: Therapy for clients often focuses on addressing the underlying emotional issues that contribute to bulimia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to be an effective treatment. 
  • Medical intervention and nutritional support: Medical treatment and nutritional support, particularly in the early stages of recovery, are usually necessary to stabilize clients’ physical health. Sometimes, this involves hospitalization. It also frequently involves professionally supervised diets to restore healthy weight and address the complications of malnutrition caused by binge-purge cycles. 
  • Support groups: Support groups, where clients can connect with and empathize with other clients, can be invaluable. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggle can make all the difference in maintaining motivation and commitment to recovery. 

In other words, morale is just as important as physical recovery. When you have both on your side, you’ll have everything you need to conquer bulimia and triumph in your journey back to health. 

Reach Out to Red Oak Recovery® to Start Your Successful Treatment for Bulimia 

For every individual who has struggled with bulimia, hundreds have recovered and gone on to live happy, fulfilling lives. If you want to get better, it’s never too late to seek professional help. At Red Oak Recovery®, our caring, empathetic staff isn’t just waiting to hear from you; we want to hear from you. Contact us online, or call us at 828.382.9699 today. It may be the best decision you ever made.