Long term effects of bulimia are extremely serious, and can be permanent. Dangerous health effects due to bulimia include Mallory Weiss Syndrome, stomach rupture, brain damage, or risk of death. As if that's not enough, there is much more about bulimia effects that you should know.
Bulimia is one of those eating disorders where, as with anorexia nervosa, the longer you suffer from it, the more damage it can do to your body.
Long term effects of bulimia can have a profound effect on how the rest of your life will play out.
Over time, bulimia nervosa impairs the cognitive functions of the brain. Some also refer to it as a form of brain damage. What does this mean?
There are certain physiological aspects of the body that once they're damaged, they cannot be repaired. Sometimes you can gain back what was lost, but it could take years of psychotherapy, and even then, things still might not be the same.
Examples of behaviors and thought processes that are affected by the long term effects of bulimia include:
Heart block and heart failure are not uncommon for those who are at risk for suffering the long term effects of bulimia. When purging activities involve laxative abuse, the use of diet pills and/or ipecac syrup -- which they often do, it is extremely dangerous.
Ipecac leaves traces of toxic substances in your body that can build up over time -- actually in a very short amount of time. These remnants can actually lead to death. This was one of the factors in the death of Karen Carpenter (from The Carpenters - 1970's singers).
Laxatives cause electrolyte imbalances, and this has a profound effects on the heart. Low potassium levels or other mineral deficiencies will cause an already weakened heart to suddenly just stop beating. This is a result of the heart's electrical system malfunctioning, and it's known as "heart block".
Without medical treatment, it can quickly progress to total heart failure, and death.
Kidney damage is quite common in those who have suffered the effects of bulimia for a long period of time. Kidneys are designed to clean and remove toxins and other poisonous substances from our bodies.
Malnutrition prevents this process from working as it should, and these poisons end up staying inside the body. This puts an individual at high risk for kidney infection or kidney failure.
Digestive system problems include losing the ability to feel full. The nerves and receptors that tell your brain when you've had enough food become damaged. It's nearly impossible to recover this function once it is lost.
Pain, bloating and stomach ulcers are likely signs and symptoms of a digestive disorder.
Tooth erosion (or permanent tooth loss) and low bone density (osteopenia) are common effects of bulimia, however osteopenia can be corrected with proper treatment. This must include treatment of the eating disorder itself. Without it, osteoporosis could set in, and this is not reversible.
If you know someone who is suffering from bulimia nervosa, encourage them to get help as soon as possible. Know the early signs, symptoms and effects of bulimia before things get out of hand.
A good first step being would be a trip to the family physician for an assessment.
Like what you just read? Let us know! Log into your Google account, then click on the "+1" below.