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Symptoms of Bulimia

Updated on August 31, 2012

Bulimic Symptoms

Bulimia Nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders. The current look at the symptoms of Bulimia is designed to be helpful and provide a little more than the basic information. Builima is an eating disorder in which an individual consumes a large amount of food and then purges the food usually by vomiting, laxative or exercise.

Bulimic symptoms are common and can often go unrecognized until the binge and purge syndrome is well entrenched and harder to interrupt. While Buimia can be life threatening, an understanding of the signs and symptoms is the first step in getting the eating disorder under control.

Binging on Carbs is a Symptom of Bulimia Nervosa

Anorexia vs. Bulimia

In order to understand what Bulimia is, it is important to first distinguish it from another common eating disorder that it is often confused with, Anorexia Nervosa. While bulimia is often initially embraced as a weight loss technique, most bulimics settle in at a weight that is closer to their ideal body weight.

In anorexia, however a person simply does not eat enough or will go days upon days without eating, or eating next to nothing. This is different from bulimia, and the attitude towards food is different as well. Whereas with anorexia food is an intimate companion, with anorexia it is the enemy.

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia

Bulimia is a very serious disorder and it is important to recognize the different signs and symptoms of Bulimia. One of the most common bulimic symptoms is a persistent concern with body image, shape and weight. The bulimic will rapidly consume large amounts of food over a discrete time interval, and these binge and purge episodes have to occur at least twice/week over several months. Another symptom of bulimia is that the bulimic experiences a loss of control over the food during the binge part of the binge and purge cycle.

Binge and Purge

As noted above one of the key symptoms of Bulima is the purge and other compensatory behaviors. Most bulimics become very adept at vomiting and can induce it at will, or with minimal effort using their fingers. Some bulimics may compensate (additionally or alternatively) by abuse of laxatives or diuretics, excessive dieting and fasting, while others vigorously exercise, or keep in constant motion.

Binging and Purging

Other Signs of Bulimia

Most bulimics seem very secretive about their food. For example, one of the signs of Bulimia they may not join family and friends for dinner. Instead, they may sneak off on their own to eat, and they will typically try to hide their Bulimic symptoms, even from those to whom they are very close. Another of the signs of Bulimia will be that they often spend time in the bathroom after eating a substantial meal. This is usually when they will be going through the purging part of the binging and purging cycle.

Physical signs of Bulimia can include wearing away of the enamel of the teeth, and frequent acid-reflux problems. Some bulimics tend to have rather puffy cheeks. As noted above they are often average or thin but not anorexic.

Diagnosis of Bulimia

In the proposed diagnostic revisions of the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the binge episode is at least two hours and involves eating more than “most people” would tend to eat in similar circumstances.

The new frequency requirement is once a week for three months. The frequency is the main change.

Credits: Photo cupcakes by Helga Weber

Comments on Symptoms of Bulimia

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    • sarita1125 profile image


      6 years ago

      very informative. We all need to be educated on such matters. For if one learns from it maybe more will follow.

    • jhunpaler profile image


      6 years ago from Philippines

      informative hub. bulimia patients should get all the support they could get to be able to defeat the disorder.


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