Anorexia nervosa is a psychological eating disorder characterized by a reduction in weight to an abnormal level, a distorted perception of weight or an intense fear of gaining weight. It is often used interchangeably with the term “anorexia” which means lack of appetite and self-starvation. People suffering from this condition use extreme efforts to control their weight, that can significantly interfere with their lives.
People with anorexia usually restrict their food intake to continue losing weight or to prevent weight gain. Various methods they use to reduce the number of calories include dieting, vomiting, and misuse of medicines such as laxatives and diuretics. They may also exercise excessively to lose weight. The real concern is that the affected person continues to fear weight gain no matter how much calories he restricts or how much weight he loses.
Anorexia nervosa is not only related to food. Rather, it’s an extremely unhealthy and life-threatening way to cope with emotional problems. People with this condition often equate weight loss or thinness with self-worth, therefore they seek different ways to restrict food intake.
Genetics is considered the main culprit behind eating disorders. It has been said that genetic predisposition loads the gun, environmental factors pull the trigger and certain personality traits add fuel to the fire in case of anorexia nervosa.
This eating disorder, like other emotional problems, can take over your life and it may be very difficult to overcome. However, many effective treatment options are available to help you gain a better sense of who you are, what type of eating disorder you are suffering from, return to healthier eating habits and cope with your emotional problems. A proper follow up can also reverse some of the serious complications related to anorexia.
The most common signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa include;
1Purging for Weight Control
Purging is one of the most common features of anorexia nervosa. It means the practice of self-induced vomiting or use of certain medicines like diuretics and laxatives to avoid the absorption of food, reduce calories and lose weight. It can be of further two types;
Binge Eating Type – This type of purging is characterized by self-induced vomiting after episodes of excessive eating. It is adopted by affected persons to lose weight by reducing the number of calories they eat.
Medication-Induced – As its name suggests, the affected person with this type of anorexia nervosa use a large number of laxatives to speed up the emptying of the stomach and decrease the absorption of food from the intestines. Diuretics are also used by some people to increase urine production and reduce body water. Purging is an unhealthy activity that can lead to some serious health complications.
According to a recent study that explores the prevalence of purging in patients with eating disorders, 78% of people with anorexia nervosa use self-induced vomiting, 49% take diuretics while up to 56% abuse diuretics to restrict food absorption and lose weight.