There are various effects that bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, can have on an individual. Many of these effects of bulimia can be extremely damaging physically and psychologically and indeed, life threatening.
The bulimic’s world is one dominated by feelings of guilt and shame. In an attempt to control these feelings, they engage in a cycle of binge eating followed by purging. It can quickly become a vicious, out-of-control cycle that increases in frequency and intensity. Over time great strain is placed on the body which can result in long-term and sometimes irreparable physical damage which is often combined with a deteriorating psychological condition.
Long Term Bulimia Effects
The problems caused by bulimia are many but there are some more serious than others. They can easily become quite complicated and turn deadly. Following are some of the most common of these:
- Mouth problems are one of the most common issues stemming from bulimia. The constant vomiting causes this due to the stomach acid eating away at the tooth enamel. This causes erosion and can lead to broken teeth and cavities. Sores develop on the gums and inside the mouth and often refuse to heal.
- Digestive and intestinal problems.
- Repeated vomiting causes the stomach acid to start eroding the esophagus lining which, in turn, causes bleeding ulcers and possibly tears. There is a danger of the esophagus and stomach perforating or rupturing. This can be fatal even with immediate treatment. Throat itch is also one of the effects of bulimia.
- Vital nutrients are taken away from the body during the repeated cycle of binging and purging, which causes malnutrition. This results in the skin and nails becoming dry and brittle, and hair loss is also quite common.
- The purging cycle causes dehydration, which brings an imbalance in electrolytes. Potassium levels often become too low to keep the heart healthy. Low blood pressure can lead to fainting and irregular heartbeats. Heart attacks are also very possible.
- A host of other issues can happen due to bulimia effects. These include strokes, liver or kidney failure, ulcers, osteoporosis, infertility, insomnia, and diabetes. All of these things are terrible for the body but there is one more that tops the list in the level of severity: Bulimia can cause death.
Effects of Bulimia on Friends and Family
There are so many physical bulimia effects that happen with the victim that sometimes the psychological effects suffered by friends and family of the bulimic are pushed to the background. These include family members and loved ones who experience the guilt and helplessness that comes with not being able to stop the suicide path these bulimics are travelling.
As most people who suffer from bulimia are great at denying they even have a problem, it can be very difficult to make them accept help even if it is brought to them. When something as serious as death occurs due to the effects of bulimia everyone involved experiences considerable pain. There is the pain of losing someone, and the guilt that maybe everything was not done that could have been to help the bulimic. While this may feel like an “alone” disease, it involves everyone who is close to the sufferer, especially once the bulimia effects become common knowledge.
Treatment for bulimia may need to involve the entire family in order for it to be successful. There are usually many questions that need to be answered. Unfortunately, bulimia is a difficult disorder to understand, even for the victim. If everyone can become a part of the treatment, it can very possibly make life easier for all who are involved.