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Bulimia Complications

Bulimia is a serious illness and can be deadly if not treated. Complications of bulimia will largely depend on how long the person has been binging and purging, the type of purging (throwing up, laxative, enemas) and how frequently they binge and purge.

Medical complications from bulimia

Some of the most common complications of bulimia are:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel because of repeated exposure to stomach acids. (May be irreversible)
  • Dental cavities
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food.
  • Swelling and soreness in the glands located on the sides of the face near the ears (from repeated vomiting).
  • Stomach Ulcers.
  • Ruptures of the stomach and esophagus.
  • Abnormal buildup of fluid in the intestines.
  • Disruption in the normal bowel release function.
  • Absense of menstrual period
  • Temporary infertility
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heartbeat and in severe cases heart attack
  • A greater risk for suicidal behavior
  • Decrease in libido.
  • Bloodshot eyes (vomiting can cause blood vessels in the eyes to burst)
  • Hair loss (caused by inadequate nutrition)
  • Dry skin (caused by poor nutrition)
  • Thickened skin on the back of the hand (from inducing themselves to vomit). Thickened skin is also called "Russel's sign" and may be permanent.
  • Frequent vomiting can cause gum disease.

Bulimia doesn't only affect the bulimic. It creates lots of family tension, worry, anxiety, anger, and sometimes guilt for the family members who are helping the bulimic. Support groups and hotline are available to help ease the pain..


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