Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. It is characterised by episodes of binging (these can be very large amounts of food), followed by a compensatory behaviour, usually self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, enemas or diuretics or engaging excessive exercise or the use of other substances including drugs or alcohol. Sufferers can be trapped in a binge/purge cycle that may go on for years. People may live feeling trapped and obsessively think of food, weight and their body image. After a binge, a sufferer may experience an overwhelming sense of shame at their loss of control and this leads to the compensatory behaviours, the purge. The shame that a sufferer experiences will often keep them from seeking help. As someone with Bulimia may maintain a normal looking weight it may go undetected as many people believe you need to have a low weight to have an eating disorder.
There is not one reason for the development of bulimia, but it can often begin after weight loss dieting. A person may starve themselves and then breakdown giving into the urge to eat, this leads to a binge (often on sugary or fatty foods) leading to feelings of failure and guilt and eventually to a purge. Over time, this cycle evolves into a binge purge cycle that becomes a compulsion. Many bulimics spend large amounts of time focused on their bodies and comparing themselves to others. It is not uncommon for their self-esteem and self-worth.
Physical problems from bulimia include: Chronic sore throat, Loss of or disturbance of menstrual periods in girls and women, Increased risk of infertility in men and women, indigestion, heartburn and reflux, Inflammation and rupture of the oesophagus and stomach from frequent vomiting, Electrolyte imbalance, Stomach and intestinal ulcers, damage to teeth, Dehydration (which can lead to kidney failure), Chronic irregular bowel movements, Gastric rupture (the stomach can tear), Heart palpitations, Osteoporosis, Bowel problems constipation and/or diarrhoea due to deliberate misuse of laxatives, Irregular or slow heart beat which can lead to an increased risk of heart failure.