Anorexia Facts

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Overview of Deadly Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa, commonly called anorexia, is an eating disorder with lifelong effects. It is most common among teenaged females, although both males and females of any age, race, or demographic may struggle with this condition. Anorexia can even start as a healthy weight loss plan for an overweight individual that is taken too far. There are many signs and symptoms of anorexia. It is important to understand that if you believe you struggle with anorexia or any of its symptoms, you should talk with someone you trust and ask them to help you get the medical attention you need.

The warning signs of anorexia include:
Strange food-related behaviors

Continuous or obsessive dieting (when not overweight)

Compulsive exercise or being overly active

Frequent weighing, often several times a day

Preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition, and/or cooking

Refusal to eat or highly restrictive eating

Negative body image – believing they are “fat” when not

Deliberate self-starvation with weight loss (rapid)

Intense, persistent fear of gaining weight

Denial of hunger

Absent or irregular menstruation


May have episodes of binge eating

Sensitive to cold

Excessive facial or body hair

Hair loss (due to inadequate protein)

Slowness of thought or memory difficulties

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a medical diagnosis. People diagnosed with AN meet the following basic criteria:
Low body weight with refusal to maintain normal weight or gain weight, specifically a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5 or 15% or more below ideal weight for height.

Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even if underweight.

Body dissatisfaction.

Amennorhea – a condition describing a female who has stopped menstruating, diagnosed when she has missed 3 or more periods.

There are two types of AN: restrictive-type and binge/purge-type. Restrictive-type AN involves extremely restrictive eating behaviors. These patients may only consume two hundred calories per day when they need two thousand. Binge/purge-type AN involves restrictive eating with eating binges – larger than normal amounts, often of one food – and purging to compensate – vomiting, laxatives, or even extreme exercise. Many people think that if binging and purging are involved that it is bulimia, but there is a different set of diagnostic criteria for bulimia. It is important to remember that to be diagnosed with AN, a person must meet all of the above criteria. However, it is also important to note that if a person does not have an eating disorder it does not mean that he or she does not have disordered eating. You can have disordered eating without having an eating disorder.

There are many complications resulting from anorexia nervosa, including mental disorders, skeletal problems, endocrine issues, digestive conditions, and heart conditions. The following conditions are complications of AN:
Difficulty concentrating/focusing

Difficulty regulating moods



Osteoporosis, even at a young age

Increased risk of stress fractures (broken bones)

Stunted growth

Thyroid abnormalities

Low energy/fatigue

Impaired body temperature regulation – low body temp.

Cold intolerance

Hair thinning and/or falling out from the head

Fine body hair (attempt to heat body)

Erosion of digestive linings from mouth to intestines (irritation due to vomiting and/or laxatives)

Slowing of the digestive tract due to restrictive eating

Chronic constipation and irregular bowel movements

Slow, irregular pulse

Low blood pressure

Dizziness and faintness

Shortness of breath

Heart arrhythmias

Cardiac arrest (heart attack) – may happen years after AN behavior

These effects can be long-lasting, but it is important to know that one can fully recover from anorexia. The longer that a person continues in disordered eating behaviors, the more his or her mortality rate increases.

It is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not feel guilty about what you should have noticed in the past. Move forward and get help to prevent further detrimental effects of this disease. A person with anorexia nervosa will need to be on an extensive treatment plan involving a medical doctor, psychiatrist/psychologist, and registered dietitian. With proper medical attention and support of family and friends, a full recovery can be achieved.

By Julie Brake

Anorexia Facts

Anorexia Facts

via The Best Weight Loss


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