Anorexia and bulimia are serious, life-threatening eating disorders. While they are both very dangerous, these eating disorders affect individuals in distinct ways.
Warning Signs of Anorexia and Bulimia
Although both are considered equally serious eating disorders in terms of mental and physical health, the warning signs of anorexia and bulimia tend to look quite different.
In terms of warning signs of anorexia, the following are things to look out for:
- Extreme weight loss – because people with anorexia tend to have a distorted view of their body shape and size, they are often unaware of how thin they have become, due to restricting their caloric intake.
- Dizziness and/or fainting – this is a common symptom of anorexia, often due to nutritional deficiencies or over-exercising.
- Intolerance of cold – individuals struggling with anorexia are almost always underweight, due to starvation, thus becoming increasingly affected by cold temperatures.
- Thin hair and nails – many people with anorexia experience thinning hair and nails, which is common due to the body’s lack of certain nutrients.
- Development of fine hairs – referred to as lanugo, a fine layer of hair frequently develops throughout one’s body due to weight loss, as a way to keep the body warm.
While these are common symptoms, thankfully they are not long-term effects of anorexia. With the appropriate treatment and recovery, can be reversed.
The warning signs of anorexia and bulimia tend to be quite distinct, and although different, the warning signs of bulimia tend to be just as noticeable, including:
- Eating large amounts of food in one sitting – those who struggle with bulimia tend to binge, or consume a large amount of food at one time. This usually means the person is eating beyond what feels satisfying, often resulting in being uncomfortably full.
- Spending long periods of time in the bathroom – frequently those who are dealing with bulimia not only binge eat but also purge. The most common way of purging is through inducing vomiting.
- Scars on fingers or knuckles – this is often true for those who self-induce vomiting as a way to purge.
- Dehydration and/or weakness – individuals with bulimia tend to purge either by inducing vomiting, ingesting laxatives, or over-exercising. These means of purging can contribute to dehydration and/or overall weakness.
Knowing the warning signs of anorexia and bulimia is important. This is especially true if there are concerns regarding a family member or friend who may be struggling with an eating disorder.
Effects of Eating Disorders
Anorexia and bulimia are amongst the most common eating disorders. And while many of the effects of these eating disorders are reversible, there are some potentially serious and long-term consequences as well, including:
- Bone loss – bone loss is especially common in women with eating disorders. Malnourishment often leads to the menstrual cycle stopping, thus causing lowered levels of estrogen, which contribute to bone density loss.
- Heart problems – restricting food intake and purging both contribute to dehydration, which effects electrolyte levels, leading to decreased muscle function, including the heart.
- Reproductive issues – due to the effects of malnourishment (whether through restricting caloric intake of purging nutrients out of the body), becoming pregnant and remaining pregnant is much more difficult.
- Cognitive dysfunction – prolonged periods of malnourishment affects the body’s organs, including the brain. Lack of nutrients contributes hugely to the loss of brain matter. Studies show that while the white matter can regenerate, the brain’s grey matter does not.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia or bulimia, contact HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY at 518-218-1188, or in Poughkeepsie, NY at 845-372-4367 to find out more about treatment options and services.