People often overlook the dangers in bulimia. They think that because bulimics are often within a healthy weight range, that it's a 'safe' eating disorder.
The truth could not be more different...
I was bulimic for over 10 years. The illness ravaged my body and I knew that it was close to killing me.
But thankfully, I got help and I recovered... Too many people don't seek help for their bulimia and suffer from it for years on end, sometimes for many decades. Too often, bulimia kills.
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and then see...
If you suffer from bulimia you have an increased risk of having seizures or fits. The seizures may be caused by dehydration, hyperglycemia or ketoacidosis. Seizures are one of the serious dangers in bulimia because they can cause brain damage.
Electrolytes are important chemicals in your body. Having the right balance of electrolytes is essential for your nerves, muscles and organs to work properly.
Electrolyte imbalances are caused by a mix of dehydration and the loss of potassium and sodium. This can be caused by excessive vomiting or laxative abuse. Bulimics often develop electrolyte abnormalities... Which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.
Because of the stress that electrolyte imbalances place on the organs - this is one of the most deadly dangers in bulimia.
When I was bulimic, my electrolyte balance was so messed up that my heartbeat became very irregular. I am lucky that bulimia didn't kill me.
Terri Schiavo had a heart attack, which was caused by a massive electrolyte imbalance due to chronic vomiting. Because of the heart attack she suffered severe brain damage and 'lived' in a vegetative state for 15 years. After this time, her feeding tube was removed and she died. Very sad :(
For advice on how you can prevent death from bulimia (by not purging in a particular way), click here.
Amenorrhea is one of the very common dangers in bulimia and anorexia. It is caused by not getting enough nutrients. This causes a drop in your hormone levels which leads to the loss of your period.
People who get Amenorrhea are often (but not always) underweight. Because of this, it is very common in anorexics and even bulimics. There are lots of side effects of amenorrhea - one of the most serious and possibly permanent is lowered bone density.
When I was 15, I stopped getting my period for about 2 years. I had a combination of anorexia and bulimia... I was thin, but not severely underweight. I'm hoping that it didn't do any long term damage... But only time will tell.
Bulimia and depression are two very intertwined illnesses. It's often hard to say which one came first.
In my case, I think I always had eating disorder tendencies... But, depression definitely triggered them off. Leaving Zimbabwe (my home) in my early teens sent me into a downward spiral of depression and bulimia. It took me almost a decade to climb out of that dark hole.
Bulimia makes you fall into a world depression. Because of this, suicide is one of the very real dangers in bulimia. Bulimics are often SO ashamed of their illness that they hide it and don't seek help. They suffer in silence until they can't take it anymore.
This, to me, is one of the most terrifying dangers in bulimia. It was in fact, my irregular and slowed heartbeat that finally drove me to get help. I was terrified of my mother finding me dead from a heart attack, lying in a pile of my own puke!
There are lots of factors associated with eating disorders that can lead to heart attack. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the main causes of death in bulimics.
Constant acid reflux (Which could result from bulimia) can cause a condition called Barrett's Esophagus. In rare cases, Barrett's Esophagus can lead to cancer.
To help make sure this doesn't happen to you, you must get checked out by a doctor or specialist. If you have Barrett's Esophagus, you can get yearly screens to make sure that the cells in are not becoming cancerous.
You deserve this preventative care, so please, if you're suffering from reflux, visit your doctor and let him know about your bulimia and your concerns about Barrett's. It is rare for people who have suffered from bulimia to develop cancer as a result of Barrett's, but it is possible. I have heard from one lady who did and she asked me to put the word out there telling others to get checked.
Gastric rupture is when you eat a huge amount of food during a binge and it bursts your gastro-intestinal tract.
Although rare, gastric ruptures are one of the scariest dangers in bulimia. They often end up killing the individual... and can be so unexpected. I remember numerous occasions when I ate so much that I was sure something had to spilt!
This is the one of the freakiest dangers in bulimia... it can lead to sudden coma and death! Ketoacidosis is when high levels of acids build up in your blood. This happens when your body burns fat instead of sugar and carbohydrate.
Ketoacidosis can be caused by a number of things including starvation, excessive binging and purging, severe dehydration, diabetes, alcoholism and hyperglycemia.
Dangerously low blood pressure can cause you to have an abnormal heart rate, shock (that can lead to organ failure) or even cardiac arrest.
Low blood pressure is common in bulimics and anorexics because it's caused by malnutrition, starvation, low body temperature and dehydration.
An easy way of recognizing low blood pressure is if you have spells of dizziness, blurry vision, heart pounding, fainting and headaches. I know I had all of these symptoms when I was bulimic... So keep an eye out for them.
If somebody is malnourished it means that they're not getting enough nutrients for their body to function normally.
I always considered malnutrition an issue in for poverty stricken African countries - little did I know, it was happening to me. My hair began thinning, my mind was foggy, my memory was poor, I had low energy - all symptoms of a malnourished body.
Malnutrition causes massive health problems - many of them life threatening. Kidney failure, blindness, respiratory infections and death are just a few of them.
I know at times it might feel impossible - but I swear to God that you can beat bulimia! You can discover a life of happiness and freedom. You deserve this life :)
To help you along in this journey, I've created The Bulimia Recovery Program (learn more about this effective online program here) and my free video course (below). Please dive into these resources - and any others that are available to you... Take the leap and begin your recovery journey today :)
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community