Bulimia can cause incredible damage to your health, affecting your digestive system, the functioning of internal organs and overall mental health. Your relationship with food can become an overriding obsession, wherein it becomes difficult to achieve anything in many areas of life and difficult to even carry out normal day-to-day functions. This is not only extremely damaging to your own health, but also to your loved ones.
Of course, each person’s situation varies greatly from that of another’s, but the most prominent consequences that come about from eating disorders such as bulimia include:
- Dental erosion and staining of teeth – Stomach acid are designed to stay in the stomach, however, constant purging can result in stomach acid frequently splashing up the esophagus and into the mouth. Because of its acidic nature, it can cause erosion and damage to your teeth and gums.
- High risk of developing GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a serious condition that is a result of consistent stomach acid entering the sensitive lining of the esophagus. Without treatment, this can escalate to cancer in the esophagus. Less severe conditions associated with GERD, include heartburn and acid reflux, which also adds to the risk of dental erosion.
- Poor central nervous system (CNS) – Your nervous system is important when it comes to managing stress. This is the center of control for both your body and more importantly, your mind. Every emotion that you experience, first passes through your CNS, including thought, memory and speech. Stress invokes the release of cortisol and can affect how your CNS functions and response to situations. This can lead to serious physical complications such as heart disease and respiratory disease. It can also increase feelings of helplessness and anxiety.
- Weakened immune system – Continually placing your body under stress and creating inflammation through consistent vomiting and a diet high in refined foods leave you open to an array of unwanted illnesses. Emerging studies are showing that almost all diseases are borne out of an inflammatory environment, including heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Stress also adds to inflammation in the body, and often bulimics struggle to face reality, as they are constantly battling their demons. Because the gut also houses 80% of your entire immune system, constant aggravation of the gut greatly affects the balance of good and bad bacteria. This only increases your risk of disease developing.
- Dehydration – The body needs water to function, but when your stomach is constantly being emptied through purging or using diuretic or laxative medication, without rehydration your body can become severely dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include having trouble thinking straight, quickly become fatigued, and dizziness. The main electrolytes lost during sweating, vomiting and even breathing are potassium, chloride and sodium.
- Stomach ulcers – Over time, the frequent production of stomach acid through vomiting can cause damage to the lining of the stomach and result in open sores. This can be recognized as burning stomach pain, bloating or vomiting blood. Sometimes there may not even be any symptoms, which can lead to a life-threatening condition due to the risk of infection or bleeding.