Bulimia is an eating disorder in which you:
To make up for overeating, most people make themselves vomit and exercise heavily. However, some people take laxatives to give themselves diarrhea. Or they may take water pills (diuretics) to make themselves urinate. Usually, they end up pretty close to an average weight.
Bulimia usually starts in the teen or young adult years and is more common in girls and women. It may be caused by social pressures to be thin. Bulimia may run in your family.
The main symptom is repeated binge eating and purging.
When you binge, you may:
After binge eating, you may purge to make up for having eaten too much, so you may:
You pay more attention to your weight and body shape than you should. You often feel badly about how your body looks even when other people think you look fine.
Unlike in other eating disorders, people with bulimia are often an average weight. But their weight may go up and down more than normal.
Yes. Purging to make up for overeating can hurt your body. If you purge a whole lot, you can become sick and even die. Making yourself vomit a lot can cause:
Scars on your knuckles from putting your fingers down your throat to force yourself to throw up
Damage to your teeth from stomach acid
Swelling of the glands in your cheeks
Damage to your esophagus (the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach) from stomach acid
Rarely, tearing of your stomach or esophagus, which can be life-threatening
Taking too many laxatives or water pills and vomiting too much all can throw off the chemical balance in your body. The abnormal chemical balance can badly affect your heart rhythm.
Doctors treat bulimia with counseling and medicines.
Counseling is usually used. It can be one-on-one with a therapist or in a group. The goals are:
Doctors may also prescribe a type of antidepressant medicine to help lessen how often you binge and purge. This medicine also treats anxiety and depression, which are common in people with bulimia.