Bulimia - symptoms, causes and therapy

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Eating disorders such as bulimia mainly affect people in the Western world. Eating disorders can be associated with low, normal or overweight. Bulimia mainly affects young women. Despite great health risks and high suffering, bulimia often remains undetected for a long time. Therefore, it is important to learn more about the background of the disease, the symptoms of bulimia and the appropriate treatment recommendations.

What is bulimia?

Bulimia is an eating disorder. Bulimia describes a disease that causes increased binge eating and often deliberate vomiting of food. According to technical definition, the disease is called Bulimia nervosa. In German, Bulimia is also the term Bulimia nervosa common.

Other eating disorders include anorexia, also known as anorexia or anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (food addiction). An atypical bulimia nervosa is present if not all criteria for the diagnosis of bulimia apply.

What are signs of bulimia?

Typical symptoms of bulimia are Vomit and dining or Binge eating. In some cases, it also comes in the meantime to weight loss and weight loss. Often, however, this is not the case because of binge eating, so one criterion for bulimia is a normal or elevated BMI (BMI> 17.5).

On the other hand, if the BMI is below 17.5 and at the same time, with the help of vomiting or medication, attempts are made to lose weight, this was an atypical anorexia.

Consequences of bulimia

Bulimia often causes acid-related disorders in the mouth due to vomiting. So it can come in the mouth and throat to sore or inflamed areas and the enamel are attacked. How the Protect teeth should be discussed in individual cases with the treating dentist.

Because essential nutrients can be lost in the absence of food and vomiting, hair loss often occurs in those afflicted with eating disorders.

Criteria for making the diagnosis

The following criteria and symptoms are decisive for the diagnosis of bulimia:

  • frequent binges (at least two a week for three months or more)
  • Essanfälle mostly in secret and alone
  • Greed for food and ongoing occupation with the topic of food
  • Avoiding weight gain from: self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives, diuretics or thyroid medications
  • in self-perception, one's own body is classified as too thick

What is bulimia doing to the body?

Due to the frequent vomiting the body loses a lot of acid. However, to produce enough stomach acid, important salts are removed from the blood. In extreme cases, this can go so far that the salt balance of the blood mixes up. This creates the risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

To avoid such life-threatening complications of bulimia, medical blood tests, especially with regard to the potassium level in the blood, necessary.

Causes: What can cause bulimia?

The disease peak is in the age group between 18 and 35 years. The causes of bulimia are very individual in each individual case. The question "How do you get bulimia?" is therefore not always the same answer. As with other eating disorders (anorexia, binge eating disorder) are the Trigger diverse and depends on several factors.

The cause is usually an interaction of genetic predisposition and environmental conditions. Genetically, the messenger serotonin seems to play a role. As an example of environmental conditions, this can Slimming ideal of our society to be named. In some cases traumatizations can be found in the history of those affected. In some cases, there are also problems in emotion regulation with frequent mood swings.

Bulimia: Who is at risk? Who is affected?

There are no test, which can show how high the risk is of getting bulimia. But in general, eating disorders seem to be more common in the Western world, where there is a food surplus. An increased risk of developing an eating disorder appears to be the following occupational groups:

  • Models
  • Ballet dancer / inside
  • Flight Attendant / inside
  • Athletes / inside

These can often be exposed to slimming pressure.

In addition, bulimia frequently occurs in connection with other mental illnesses.

Who diagnoses bulimia?

Eating disorders are either diagnosed by a doctor, usually a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. Usually, a doctor makes the initial diagnosis and then transfers the person concerned to a psychotherapist.

Who treats bulimia?

For the treatment of bulimia psychotherapy is necessary. This is usually done by a psychological or medical psychotherapist. Continuous medical and psychotherapeutic therapy is the best way to treat bulimia.

Here sufferers also learn what and when to beat the bulimia best should be eaten. Especially important are the daily structure and structured food.

In some refractory cases, bulimia also helps with drug therapy, such as the antidepressant fluoxetine, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI).

Suffering from bulimia: who helps?

Since bulimia often has a strong negative impact on physical health, medical co-treatment should generally be provided. Self-help groups or relatives groups can be a good help in the therapy. There, exchanged tips and the cohesion of the group can protect against relapses.

On the other hand, blogs and forums are not recommended for self-help because they are not accompanied by specialist staff.

What do you do to help yourself?

Bulimia is especially problematic over long hours of starvation typical of bulimia. Long abstinence from food increases the susceptibility to binge eating: After periods of hunger, the craving for food is at some point so great that a binge of food can hardly be averted.

The next binge will then be followed by another hunger period as punishment and with the aim of losing weight. This then programs the next binge and is a vicious circle that maintains bulimia.

What to do? Regular and structured food intake is crucial. This prevents binging and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

What happens after bulimia?

Often sufferers need a long time to seek help, because the topic of eating disorder is very shame for them. After successful therapy, many patients remain symptom free.

Other sufferers achieve symptom-free intervals alternating with relapses. A third group requires long-term therapeutic support if the symptoms of bulimia persist.

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