The Long-Term Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

The Long-Term Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a common eating disorder that involves a recurring cycle of binge eating large amounts of food and compensatory purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting, and laxative abuse. can result in a number of different physical effects on the body. Most bulimia nervosa side effects can become serious if left untreated, making early intervention important for those with the disorder. As parents and family members help their loved ones look for the best bulimia nervosa recovery options available, it is important to keep these many long-term side effects in mind and search for a program that offers both psychiatric and medical care. There are many families that have been destroyed because of an addiction or disorder; they may or may not have the proper inpatient eating disorder treatment options…but this article aims to help you understand the disorder and the effects.

Common Bulimia Nervosa Side Effects

While most people are familiar with some of the immediate physical signs of bulimia nervosa like a sore throat, tooth decay and face swelling – many long-term health effects are more difficult to recognize without the help of an experienced medical professional. Tooth decay is especially common for those with bulimia nervosa, due to the repeated cycle of self-induced vomiting in an effort to get rid of excess calories. This is because the content of the stomach is usually highly acidic and over time, these acids can break down the tooth enamel.

Other common short-term health effects of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Severe Dehydration
  • Irregular Heart Rhythms
  • Intestinal Problems (including frequent constipation)
  • Hair Loss
  • Sleep Problems
  • Dry Skin
  • Increased Risk of Stroke
  • Organ Failure

Bulimia nervosa is extremely hard on the body and those with the condition are at risk of death if they do not get treatment. In fact, early intervention is key for a good bulimia nervosa prognosis.

Long-Term Bulimia Nervosa Side Effects

Bulimia nervosa recovery is not only important for one’s mental health but their physical health as well. In fact, this common eating disorder can have a devastating impact on the whole body long-term and result in many different serious long-term side effects. These include:

  • Bone Weakness – If the body does not get enough nutrients, the bones are unable to fully develop the right amount of mineral density. As a result, those with bulimia nervosa can develop osteoporosis, an irreversible bone disease.
  • Electrolyte Imbalances – Long-term purging behaviors can cause the body’s electrolyte levels to be in a persistent state of imbalance, putting great strain on heart and kidney function. Electrolyte imbalances can have a hugely negative effect on heart function and in many cases, leads to a higher risk of heart attack. Additionally, heart failure is known as one of the leading fatal effects associated with bulimia nervosa.
  • Disruption or Loss of Menstrual Cycle – Women with bulimia nervosa are at great risk of experiencing infrequent menstrual periods with a condition known as oligomenorrhea. This condition is caused by poor nutrition and can affect fertility. In fact, even those who are in bulimia nervosa recovery may find that it takes some time for their periods to return to normal and they are able to conceive.

Seeking Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa

While there are many potentially life-threatening health effects associated with bulimia nervosa, with proper treatment and continued care, it is possible to enjoy a successful recovery. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary for patients to seek treatment in a facility that offers both medical and psychiatric care.

At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we are proud to provide the highest level of psychiatric and medical care for patients outside of a hospital setting. We are dedicated to helping each of our patients find the tools they need to enjoy a positive bulimia nervosa recovery and rebuild a positive relationship with food. Interested in learning more about the eating disorder recovery services we offer? Call 866.511.4325 or contact us today for more information.


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