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Phillip Van Otten

Paul Roberts

Foundations of Nutrition 1020

5 November 2018

Bulimia Nervosa

Does having an eating disorder mean you will always be helpless? While Bulimia

Nervosa is a serious and dangerous eating disorder, it is something that you or others can

overcome. A lot of people may think that this eating disorder is something that you will always

have lingering over you. After going over the research and information about Bulimia Nervosa, I

have found that there is a great amount of knowledge we should all know about what this eating

disorder is and how it is diagnosed. In addition, there are ways that others can get help and not

let this eating disorder consume their lives.

What is Bulimia Nervosa? This eating disorder is characterized by binge eating and then

purging immediately afterwards. Purging can come in the form of forcing yourself to vomit or

taking a laxative or diuretic (Gab.A). This eating disorder is more usually found with women, but

is still prevalent in men as well at some point in their lives. With a survey that was done in 2007,

they asked 9,282 English-speaking Americans about a variety of different mental and eating

disorders. What they found was that 1.5% of women and 0.1% of men said they have or have

had Bulimia Nervosa at some point in their life (Hud.JI). Though that does not seem like a big

amount, it still is a reality to hundreds of thousands of people. These statistics are hard to find

because the symptoms are usually chalked up to be related to something else. But at the root

cause of those problems is people are not getting the nutrients they need.
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So now that we have a little knowledge about what Bulimia Nervosa is, let’s go over

what some of the symptoms and side effects are. Typically, people that have this eating disorder

will keep their eating habits a secret. They will usually not eat around other people and wait to be

alone so that it will be easier for them to purge afterwards. Let also will eat in secret because

they will eat such an excessive amount of food that they feel embarrassed of their behavior

(National). They do this because they don’t want to gain weight. As you could probably guess

this can get very dangerous. Our body needs nutrition to have a healthy body and purging out

your food denies the body from getting most of those nutrients. People that have Bulimia

Nervosa will usually have cavities and discolored teeth from purging so much the corrosive acids

in the stomach are decaying their teeth. They also might appear weak and tired from the lack of

nutrients needed for the body to function properly. The tops of their fingers may also have cuts

or scars from using them to make themselves vomit so often that their teeth cut into their fingers

(National). With the lack of nutrients that the body needs, your body over time will start to have

digestive problems. Having digestive problems can make it so your body isn’t getting what it

needs. This can affect your heart and other major organs function. These can be silent killers and

not have any noticeable lab results if you went to see a doctor (National). One of the reasons we

don’t see Bulimia Nervosa as a reason for death is because the deaths are usually from cardiac

arrest from complication of Bulimia nervosa. From death certificates from the United States it

shows the mortality rate at 3.9% from Bulimia Nervosa, but that could be a lot higher since the

deaths are usually labeled as other reason of death (Ouel.JD).

It is important that we know the symptoms and information about Bulimia Nervosa

because early diagnosis is key to helping people have the best chance or not developing long-

term problems. If you see signs of this eating disorder in your own life or in someone else’s, get
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them help as soon as possible. You can talk to them and let them know that you will be there to

support them and help them get the medical attention that they need. Most of the time they don’t

need to be hospitalized but you can take them to a treatment center. An option that could be

looked into is going into interpersonal psychotherapy. During this 20-week program they will

focus on changing the behavior by finding the main root of the problem and taking one step at a

time to change the behaviors of the eating disorder (NCBI). Although a relapse happens to about

31-44% of patients, it is still important to keep trying and not get discouraged. Sticking with the

program that the psychotherapist gives you can lead to a longer and healthier life. Approximately

50% of people that go through treatment are completely free of Bulimia Nervosa symptoms 5

years after they started treatment (NCBI). The key to higher survival or this eating disorder is

catching it early and seeking treatment as soon as possible. It is treatable and professionals can

help you get back to a healthy weight and getting the nutrients your body needs (NCBI).

Looking at the information that we have gone over we can see that there is not a lot of

statistics on Bulimia Nervosa. What we can see from the data we have is that it is something that

can be treated. The biggest part to making sure that people survive from this eating disorder is

that we catch it early. We need to be looking for the signs in ourselves and others. From the

numbers that we talked about, around 50% of people no longer show symptoms of Bulimia

Nervosa 5 years after treatment. That means that there will be come hiccups along the way, but

that does not mean that is you have a relapse that all hope is lost. In the future I hope that there is

more statistics on this eating disorder in order to have people more educated at how big of a deal

it is. People need to know that there is help out there and that they don’t have to go through this

alone. So, do I think that Bulimia Nervosa is something that cannot be helped? I think that it is

something that we can help others overcome. Eating disorders are serious and should be treated
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as such. They may be overlooked because the symptoms are hard to notice. The resources are out

there for others to get help. We just need to make that information more accessible. I had no idea

that there was such a silent killer out there that people were keeping to themselves. I can

understand that it may be embarrassing to reach out for help, but it cannot be stressed enough

that if you or someone you know is showing symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa, you need to get

them the help that they need. The problems might not come immediately, but this eating disorder

is something that no one should go through alone. The support that they will get in treatment can

save a life. So, if there is anything that is taken away from all this information is that everyone

has the right to a healthy life, but they might just need a little more help then somebody else

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Works Cited

Gabbey, Amber Erickson. “Bulimia Nervosa | Definition and Patient Education.” Healthline,

Healthline Media, 26 July 2016, www.healthline.com/health/bulimia-nervosa.

Hudson JI, Hiripi E, Pope HG Jr, and Kessler RC. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of

eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry,

61(3):348-58. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.040.

“Bulimia Nervosa.” National Eating Disorders Association, National Eating Disorders

Association, 22 Feb. 2018, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-


Jona M. Rushing, C. (2018). Bulimia Nervosa: A Primary Care Review. [online] PubMed

Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC419300/

[Accessed 2003].

Ouellette, JD. “Home.” Eating Disorder Help, 2015, www.mirror-mirror.org/bulimia/statistics-