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Facts on Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa involves frequent episodes of binge eating, almost always followed by purging and intense feelings of guilt or shame. The individual feels out of control and recognizes that the behavior is not normal.

Bulimia Danger Signals:

  • bingeing, or eating uncontrollably
  • purging by strict dieting, fasting, vigorous exercise, vomiting or abusing laxatives or diuretics in an attempt to lose weight
  • using the bathroom frequently after meals
  • preoccupation with body weight
  • depression or mood swings
  • irregular periods
  • developing dental problems, swollen cheek glands, heartburn and/or bloating
  • experiencing personal or family problems with alcohol or drugs

Physical complications:

  • gastrointestinal problems: irritation of esophagus, stomach, salivary glands and throat from persistent vomiting
  • damaged or discolored teeth: gastric acids erode enamel
  • lung irritation: choking while vomiting causes food particles to lodge in lungs, causing inflammation
  • chronic loss of bodily fluids: depletes blood potassium, sodium and chloride levels, resulting in muscle
  • spasms, weakness, irregular heartbeat and kidney disease

The information on this page was taken from the National Eating Disorders Screening Program Newsletter (February, 1996). The Newsletter was sponsored by The Renfrew Center (Philadelphia and Florida) and was published by the Massachusetts Eating Disorder Association, Inc., a national nonprofit corporation.

Boston College Eating Awareness Team
Last Updated: January 28, 2002