Bulimia nervosa, commonly referred to as bulimia, is one of the most common eating disorders, and it can have disastrous effects on the body. Someone who is bulimic is constantly in a state of binging and purging, and they usually do this in complete secrecy. The eating disorder can cause a number of different health problems, and it can be very difficult for someone who is bulimic to seek the help that they need because of the shame often associated with it.
The Binge and Purge Cycle
Bulimics, unlike those who have anorexia, do not avoid food. In fact, a bulimic is going to indulge in the types of food that they love. However, they binge and they eat far more in a single setting than they should. They can consume thousands of calories in a very short time. They eat compulsively, and when they are finally finished, they feel horrible about what they've done. They have feelings of shame and desperations, and they believe they need to find a fast way to purge their bodies of those calories. Some will take to excessive exercise, but the vast majority uses a different form of purging.
They do not want to gain weight and they do not want to get fat, so they induce vomiting to get rid of the food in their stomach. The vomiting gives the individual a feeling of relief because they no longer have to worry about the calories they consumed. Some choose to use syrup of ipecac to induce the vomiting and others induce by sticking their fingers down their throat. Vomiting so frequently can cause the lining of the throat to weaken. It can also cause stomach problems such as ulcers and perforated stomachs, and even problems with the teeth. The acids of the stomach can begin to wear away on the tooth enamel.
Other methods include the use of laxatives and enemas to remove the food from the bowels and reduce the number of calories consumed. This method doesn't actually remove the calories that many bulimics believe it does though. Most the calories have already been absorbed, so the weight loss experienced is because of dehydration. They will sometimes use diuretics to the same effect. The misuse and overuse of these products can cause a number of health problems, and in extreme cases, they can be deadly.
Getting the Right Help
Bulimics know that what they are doing is wrong and harmful, which is why they hide their behavior. They do not know how to stop the binge and purge cycle though. It is something that becomes a part of their lifestyle, and even though they might be able to convince themselves to stop for a little while and try to remain healthy, they will often fall back to their old ways. It is very important that they find the professional help they need that will be able to help them with their physical problems and their psychological issues. Support groups and organizations are available that can help people with this eating disorder.