Monday, 10 November 2014

Bulimia Nervosa FAQ

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging, or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed (purging), typically by vomiting, taking a laxativediuretic, or stimulant, and/or excessive exercise, because of an extensive concern for body weight.

What are the common reasons for bulimia?  

The way media portrays and idealizes a slim physique has often been found to be the main culprit. This in turn leads to peer pressure in teenage girls and youths to stay thin and results in distortion of body image. There can also be a biological or genetic predisposition.

What are the warning signs of the disease, if I were a parent, how can I detect it?

If the child starts becoming secretive about her meals, parents need to start taking note. Parents may notice that they try to restrict their diet and then loses control and binge eat at other times. They may disappear or spend a lot of time in the toilet, often to purge or vomit the food out.

What are the dangers of bulimia? Are they the same as anorexia, or more dangerous? (will the stomach acid harm the throat walls, other complications e.g?)

Bulimia and Anorexia are really two sides of the same coin. From a physical point of view, Anorexia and restricting one's diet is more dangerous. However,Bulimia can also cause a myriad of physical problems such as electrolyte imbalance, cardiovascular problems like irregular rhythm, digestive issues and throat and mouth problems. Having Bulimia is likely to predispose one to Anorexia as well.

How different are the profiles of patients of bulimia and anorexia? (since maybe bulimia is a more active way of coping, while anorexia seems passive?)

I believe they are the same illness presenting differently and at different times. Many anorexic patients go on to binge and develop bulimia after the anorexia episode. As such the profile is very much the same. In young adolescent girls exposed to a culture which emphasises a slim physique.
 How is the treatment for bulimia? is it the same as anorexia?

As with anorexia, the first step is to recognise the problem and to seek help. The need for hospitalisation is often lower in Bulimia as compared to Anorexia where low body weight can sometimes be a medical emergency and refeeding needs to be carried out quickly and safely in the hospital. Unlike in Anorexia, medication like antidepressant plays a role in helping with the urge of binging and purging. Psychotherapy is an important component of treatment in both.