The disease Bulimia affects nearly 10% of college age women, it is also called Bulimia Nervosa, is a complex psychological eating disorder. People who suffer from Bulimia experience extreme anxiety over their size and body shape, which results in a cycle of binging on large quantities of food and then "purging" or practicing unhealthy methods of weight control.
People who suffer from Bulimia will eat very large quantities of "comfort foods" in response to feelings of depression, stress, or low self-esteem. Common comfort foods include sweet foods, foods with high caloric counts, and foods with smooth texture, such as ice cream or cake. After the binge, sufferers will experience a temporary sense of calm and relief from anxiety. The calmness the sufferer experiences is then followed by a feeling of self-loathing and disgust, which leads to the need to purge.
Sufferers will do anything from forcing themselves to vomit, fast, or exercise excessively to having enemas done, and abusing laxatives and diuretics in order to stop themselves from gaining weight. The illness leads to erosion of tooth enamel caused by stomach acids during repeated vomiting, swelling or soreness of the salivary glands, stomach ulcers, ruptures of the stomach and windpipe, build up of fluid in the intestines, irregular bowel function, dehydration, irregular heartbeat, electrolyte imbalance, suicidal behaviour and heart attack.
- eating uncontrollably
- strict dieting and obsessive exercising
- vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics in an attempt to lose weight
- using the bathroom frequently after meals
- obsession with body weight
- depression or mood swings
- swollen glands in the neck and face
- sore throat
- irregular periods
- heartburn, indigestion, constipation
- bloodshot eyes, weakness, exhaustion
Sufferers are hard to diagnose because they can look totally normal and are usually of normal weight or are slightly overweight. It's a secretive illness, with most of the telltale behaviour happening in private. People in professions where body image is emphasised, such as dancing, modelling, gymnastics, and long-distance running are at greater risk. People with symptoms of the illness should talk to a doctor or counsellor immediately.