In this blog post, I discussed what Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Compulsive Eating actually are. If you haven’t read it, check it out! I also mentioned there that I would blog in future posts about physical consequences of eating disorders, as well as fleshing out some of the contributing factors for my own eating disorder. Well – here it is! I’ve decided to primarily talk about the health issues I dealt with, and will link you to a fantastic website that explains the majority of the side effects if you are interested in learning more.
Malnutrition – caused by undereating or overeating.
Dehydration – caused by the depletion or lack of intake of fluids in the body, or by restriction of carbohydrates and fat.
Lanugo – (soft downy hair on face, back and arms).
Edema – swelling of the soft tissues as a result of excess water accumulation.
Muscle Atrophy – wasting away of muscle and decrease in muscle mass due to the body feeding off of itself.
Paralysis – transient (or temporary) paralysis — extreme weakness of muscles or not being able to move at all — Caused by low levels of potassium, and/or the degeneration of nerve cells, in the spinal cord or in the brain, which have been deprived of essential nutrients.
Mallory-Weiss tear – associate with vomiting, a tear of the gastroesophageal junction
Esophageal Reflux – Acid Reflux Disorders – partially digested items in the stomach, mixed with acid and enzymes, regurgitates back into the esophagus.
Insomnia – having problems falling and/or staying asleep.
Hyperactivity – manic bouts of not being able to sit still.
Swelling – in face and cheeks (following self-induced vomiting).
Dry Skin and Hair, Brittle Hair and Nails, Hair Loss – caused by Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies, malnutrition and dehydration.
Low Blood Pressure, Hypotension (more common in those with Anorexia and/or Bulimia) – cause by lowered body temperature, malnutrition and dehydration. Can cause heart arrhythmias, shock or myocardial infarction.
Disruptions in Blood Sugar Levels – Low Blood Sugar/Hypoglycemia
Ketoacidosis – high levels of acids that build up in the blood (known as ketones) caused by the body burning fat (instead of sugar and carbohydrates) to get energy.
Iron Deficiency, Anemia – this makes the oxygen transporting units within the blood useless and can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, increased infections, and heart palpitations.
Amenorrhea – Loss of Menstrual Cycle (due to lack of secreting hormone, Oestrogen, by the ovaries).
Easily Bruising Skin
Dental Problems, Decalcification of teeth, erosion of tooth enamel, severe decay, Gum Disease
Lowered body temperature – Temperature Sensitivity – caused by loss of healthy insulating layer of fat and lowered blood pressure.
Digestive Difficulties – a deficiency in digestive enzymes will lead to the bodies inability to properly digest food and absorb nutrients. This can lead to malabsorption problems, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances.
Weakness and Fatigue – caused by generalized poor eating habits, electrolyte imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, depression, malnutrition, heart problems.
See http://www.something-fishy.org/dangers/dangers.php for more information.
I fainted sometimes. I was exhausted (due to a lack of food and high intensity exercise). I slept during the day and stayed awake all night. I had concentration problems. My immune system sucked and I had colds all the time. I grew extra hair on my arms and was always cold. I lost my period for 8 months and it has only just started to become normal again (hallelujah!) I became socially inept. Lost my friends. Become a walking ghost. Was depressed. And so forth.
If you think you have an eating disorder, then please. I urge you to get help now.