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What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa is an illness of repetitive binge eating, in which a person feels a loss of control of normal eating, consumes extreme amounts of food, and then attempts to counteract the effects of doing so by inducing vomiting; taking large amounts of diet pills, laxatives or diuretics; exercising in an extreme manner; or fasting for extended periods.
Among its unique aspects:
- Usual time of onset is age 15 to 25
- Affects an estimated 1-2% of adolescent girls and young women
- Approximately 80% of patients with bulimia nervosa are female
- People with bulimia nervosa are typically of normal weight
- Can cause electrolyte imbalances that can lead to cardiac irregularities and possibly heart failure and death
- Frequently associated with attempts at weight loss
- Often accompanied by feelings of shame and low self-regard
- Often linked to history of being overweight or teasing about weight
- Can be preceded by low self-regard
- History of marked stress or trauma
- Frequent use of bathroom immediately after meals
- Showering after meals
- Large quantities of food missing from kitchen, or presence of wrappers and food containers indicating consumption of large quantities of food
- Extreme mood instability
- Swelling of glands around the jaw
- Apparent bruising or calluses on back of hands or knuckles
- Excessive preoccupation with weight and appearance